NAICU Washington Update

Fairness for All Act Introduced in the House

December 20, 2019

Representative Chris Steward (R-UT) recently introduced the Fairness for All Act, a bill that would protect religious freedom and prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Endorsed by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, the legislation attempts to strike a balance between religious liberty and protections for LGBT individuals.
The Fairness for All Act would amend existing federal civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, while preserving and, in some cases, expanding protections and exceptions for religious organizations and religious beliefs. Key provisions in the bill would:
  • Prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in employment, federally funded programs or activities, public accommodations and facilities, housing, credit opportunity, and jury service.
  • Allow religious organizations and individuals to adhere to their religious beliefs by providing exceptions related to employment, public accommodations, medical services, adoption and foster care services, and accreditation of institutions of higher education.
According to the bill’s supporters, the Fairness for All Act is intended to provide an alternative to the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBT rights bill that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year. Although the Fairness for All Act has garnered the support of several religious and civil rights groups, other religious and civil rights organizations remain opposed to the legislation. In general, some religious organizations oppose expanding the scope of protections for LGBT individuals, while some civil rights groups argue that the bill’s broad religious exceptions will weaken LGBT rights.

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