Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT-2) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives called the “Fairness for All Act” (FFA) last week to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the areas of employment, public accommodations and housing discrimination. The bill has eight Republican co-sponsors, Fred Upton (MI-06), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Rob Bishop (UT-01), John Curtis (UT-03), Mark Amodei (NV-02), David Joyce (OH-14), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Mike Simpson (ID-02).
Notably, there are no Democrat co-sponsors. There has been no companion bill introduced in the Senate, as is the usual practice. The proposed law is advertised as a “compromise” between the Democrat-sponsored “Equality Act,” passed by the House in May, and the objections of those on the Right who believe that conscience rights and free exercise of religion must be protected, rather than prohibited as unlawful “discrimination.”
Other than the sponsor and eight co-sponsors, however, both Right and Left are highly critical of the bill, but for different reasons.
Democrats get their marching orders on legislation like this from LGBT organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which together with several other groups, have issued a joint press statement panning the bill in no uncertain terms.
“The ‘Fairness for All’ Act is anything but fair,” the HRC statement reads, “and it certainly does not serve all of us. It is an affront to existing civil rights protections that protect people on the basis of race, sex, and religion and creates new, substandard protections for LGBTQ people with massive loopholes and carve-outs, and upends critical federal programs that serve children in need.”
The HRC joint statement points to the Equality Act as the only legislation it and its allies will support. The Daily Citizen has reported on the Equality Act here.
On the other side of the ideological aisle, the FFA concept, which has been floated in Republican and conservative circles for several years by organizations such as the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), and also supported by the Mormon Church , has not seen much backing from religious liberty supporters. Almost 90 conservative leaders signed a letter in 2017 opposing the concept of laws elevating sexual orientation and gender identity as protected statuses under civil rights laws.
This “well-intentioned but inadequate” legislation will hopefully go nowhere except to a House committee where it will be tabled indefinitely, effectively killing it. However, it behooves those of us who understand and believe that religious freedom is an inalienable right of mankind, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to be able to articulate why FFA is neither fair nor a “compromise.” It’s a deceptively simple way to lose our freedoms.