This morning, Congressman Chris Stewart (UT-02) introduced the Fairness for All Act (FFA) to resolve conflicts between the rights of LGBT individuals and the religious liberty rights of individuals.
According to a press release issued by Rep. Stewart, “No American should lose their home or job simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. All religious persons should be free to live, work, or serve their community in ways that are consistent with their faith.”
The bill prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in housing and employment or places of public accommodation. It also protects the tax-exempt status of religious organizations, including religious colleges and universities. It also protects small business owners who refrain from actions that violate their conscience or beliefs. The bill also specifically shields religious adoption and foster care agencies from discrimination claims, but simultaneously expands the rights of LGBT individuals to adopt or provide foster care.
The bill is intended to provide an alternative to the Equality Act that is stalled in Congress, which would have eliminated the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to cases of discrimination against LGBT people.
Groups that support the Fairness For All Act include, among others, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Other advocacy groups on the left and right have signaled opposition to the legislation claiming that it concedes too much to the opposite side.
Politics in America today are not just divided down the middle, but positions are pushed to the extremes. The Supreme Court has been very reluctant to make the ultimate decision as to “who wins” but it will be forced to do so soon, with clear “winners” and “losers.” As in most groundbreaking legislation, there’s room for negotiation. Rather than dismiss this attempt at “middle of the road” bill out-of-hand and shout down the other side, each side could benefit from viewing the introduction of the Fairness for All Act as an opportunity to come together to try to find workable solutions.
As of this writing, a bill number has not yet been assigned.
For more information, visit http://www.fairnessforall.org