The “Fairness for All Act” (FFA) was introduced into Congress last week. The proposed legislation adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Unlike a competing, even worse piece of legislation, the so-called “Equality Act,” which would add SOGI to multiple federal non-discrimination laws, FFA does provide some exemptions for religious freedom. FFA supposedly attempts to provide a balance between LGBT activism and religious freedom.
But that brings up an important point: People of faith shouldn’t need an exemption from a federal law to practice their faith. Religious liberty and free speech shouldn’t require special carveouts or provisions in legislation.
Since the 1970s, hundreds of municipalities and dozens of states have added SOGI protections to existing non-discrimination laws. Many of these non-discrimination laws also have exemptions supposedly protecting religious faith. But in numerous instances, freedom of speech, religious freedom and freedom of association have lost out to SOGI laws and regulations.
Those who believe that humans are male and female, not a multitude of genders, are painted as bigots by SOGI legislation. People who believe God’s design for sexuality and marriage are smeared as discriminatory by SOGI regulations.
In addition, parental rights and individual rights to privacy and safety are also assaulted by these laws. Education is transformed, as children are taught about sexual identities and various “genders,” often beginning in kindergarten, often against their parents deeply held beliefs and in opposition to scientific, biological reality. Privacy and safety are affected as these laws open single-sex dressing rooms, showers and restrooms to individuals who believe they are the opposite sex. Women and girls are losing out in athletic opportunities to men and boys who “identify” as female.
Despite the good intentions of its supporters, FFA will produce similar, dreadful results. If those assaults on liberty, parental rights, privacy and safety aren’t enough reasons why FFA should fail, here’s another: The legislation is unnecessary.
LGBT activists use talking points like this to justify federal SOGI laws: “In 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing or denied services simply because of who we are.” But is that happening? Are people being refused housing, employment and service because of their sexual identity, attractions or behaviors?
Let’s look first at employment. As gay-identified journalist James Kirchick wrote in an article for The Atlantic, “The Struggle for Gay Rights is Over.” He explains that homosexuality and transgenderism are applauded and celebrated in many areas of society, including the business world.
In terms of jobs and earnings, gay- and lesbian- identified men and women men earn more, on average, than those who identify as heterosexual. For gay-identified men, a recent study showed their average income to be 10% higher than other men. The phenomenon of higher earnings for lesbian-identified women is so well known among economists that they have a name for it: “the lesbian wage premium.” One analysis of 29 studies showed these women earned 9% more than heterosexual-identified women.
Ryan T. Anderson, in a report for The Heritage Foundation, cites 2016 U.S. Treasury data, based on tax returns, showing that opposite-sex couples earned on average “$113,115, compared to $123,995 for lesbian couples and $175,590 for gay male couples.” “For couples with children,” Anderson writes, “the gap is even more dramatic: $104,475 for opposite-sex couples but $130,865 for lesbian couples and $274,855 for gay couples.” So where’s the employment and earnings discrimination?
Anderson cites higher household incomes as another example: “According to Prudential, ‘median LGBT household income is $61,500 vs. $50,000 for the average American household.’”
Kirchick even asked the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT activist group in the U.S., for statistics about “the number of LGBTQ people annually denied employment, housing, or service at a hotel or restaurant due to their sexuality or gender identity.” HRC was unable to give him any statistics. Kirchick writes, “Most social movements are able to identify the extent of the problems they seek to address.” But HRC could not do so.
Rather than give real, verifiable research about discrimination, HRC pointed to a 2015 poll where “63% of LGBT people self-reported ‘discrimination in their personal lives.’” Kirchick explains why this “self-reported discrimination” is not strong enough to demand government action: “Such language is sufficiently vague to encompass everything from a stray homophobic comment heard on the street to being fired, and is thus not a useful gauge of the extent of a problem remediable by government action. Blanket discrimination against gay people simply on the basis of their sexual orientation is not widespread.”
Both Kirchick and Anderson quote gay-identified law professor Andrew Koppelman, from Northwestern University School of Law, who writes that hardly any cases of refusal to serve someone for being LGBT-identified have occurred. He explains that all the so-called “discrimination cases” have been about the refusal to facilitate a same sex relationship in some way, “by providing wedding, adoption, or artificial insemination services, counseling, or rental of bedrooms.”
Koppelman concludes: “There have been no claims of a right to simply refuse to deal with gay people. Even in the large number of states with no antidiscrimination protection for gay people, I am unaware of any case where a couple was unable to conduct a wedding.”
HRC publishes an annual “Corporate Equality Index” (CEI), which ranks businesses according to their “commitment to equal treatment of employees, consumers and investors, irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.” Their most recent report showed 572 major corporations with “a 100 percent rating and the designation of being a ‘Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.’” These companies actively support and promote homosexuality and transgenderism.
LGBT-identified activists portray their community as a poor, beleaguered, discriminated against group. The reality is far different. As Kirchick explains, LGBT-identified individuals face nothing like the discrimination imposed on African Americans back in the 50s and 60s.
A broad, sweeping federal law like “Fairness for All” should have some justification. FFA is government regulation in search of a problem. Instead, it creates problems for people of faith. That hardly seems fair.