Will “Fairness For All” bill protect the LGBTQ community?
A group of Republican legislators are pushing a compromise bill called “Fairness for All” Act and we have to wonder: how will this affect the LGBTQ community?
This compromise bill filed by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) is supposed to bridge the gap between the rights of the LGBTQ community and the religious conservatives.
“Fairness for All” to balance LGBTQ, religious rights
This bill is supposed to be the Republicans’ answer to the Democrats’ Equality Act, the latter a comprehensive bill to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination.
The Democrats in the House had earlier passed the Equality Act on a bipartisan basis– though this now faces a Republican-controlled Senate.
The “Fairness for All” bill is the first LGBTQ civil rights bill introduced by conservative lawmakers in either chambers of Congress.
On one hand, the bill would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations.
On the other hand, it gives broad exemptions for churches and religious organizations and protects their religious freedom.
“Religious freedom and LGBT rights don’t have to be in a lose-lose battle for protections in America,” Stewart told Vox.
This bill would expand the Civil Rights At of 1964 and is modeled after the so-called “Utah Compromise.”
Fairness for All? Or is it compromising your rights?
However, some LGBTQ rights advocates have called this compromise a “Trojan Horse” for LGBTQ rights due to the limited or watered-down protections they offer to the LGBTQ people.
“The so-called Fairness for All Act is an unacceptable, partisan vehicle that erodes existing civil rights protections based on race, sex and religion, while sanctioning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people,” Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said in a statement.
“For LGBTQ people living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, this bill is a double whammy of dangerous rollbacks and discriminatory carve-outs,” David said.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the bill greenlights the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to target the LGBTQ people.
The bill also weakens some longstanding protections in federal and state laws for everyone, not just LGBTQ community, the ACLU warned.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), told Vox that while it’s good some conservatives admit that LGBTQ discrimination are real, the NCTE doesn’t support this new bill.
Rep. David Cicilline, the chair of the House Equality Caucus, further said: “This bill does not protect LGBTQ people. Instead it codifies discrimination.”
A compromise bill to make everyone unhappy
Obviously, this bill giving allowance to the LGBTQ people has also made some religious right groups angry at the compromise.
Some religious conservatives like the Heritage Foundation have come out against the bill, saying it does not “promote the common good.”
In a letter to the GOP last November, the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, Concerned Women for America, Christian Medical Association, and the American College of Pediatricians said the bill “fails to effectively protect religious freedom and the common good.”
However, a small coalition of them are supporting the bill, which is led by the American Unity Fund.
The group includes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the First Amendment Partnership, the Center for Public Justice, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
“I’m excited about the solutions that are embodied in the legislation, because I think that those are the exact ideas that we’re going to need to pass federal civil rights for LGBTQ people,” said Tyler Deaton, senior adviser at the American Unity Fund.