Fairness for All is a terrible compromise. Yet, any effort to reduce LGBTQ discrimination is opposed by the religious right.
In the way of background, the Fairness for All Act was first introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) in the last session of Congress. It had eight Republican co-sponsors and no Democratic co-sponsors. According to supporters, the bill is a compromise between nondiscrimination and religious freedom.
According to Family Research Council the bill is to be reintroduced on Saturday.
The premise is nonsensical
No one has a religious duty to discriminate. Commerce is not approval. It is an exchange of goods or services for money. If some idiot thinks that his religion requires him to withhold service then that is his problem.
Similarly, if Catholic Charities and others cannot place adoptive and foster children without discriminating against gay couples then they should get out of the child welfare business. These agencies are government contractors who perform services at the expense of taxpayers. All taxpayers including LGBTQ people. Yet (assuming that the text of the Act remains the same):
An otherwise qualified religious provider shall be eligible to receive Federal financial assistance for a particular service without regard to the provider’s religious views or teachings, notwithstanding section 2000d. Subject to this title, a religious organization that applies for, or participates in, a program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance shall retain its independence and may continue to carry out its mission, including the definition, development, and expression of its religious beliefs.
Were affected agencies to drop out of child welfare contracts kids would be assigned to other agencies who would work with a larger pool of eligible parents which provides a benefit to all the children.
Furthermore, when an agency discriminates against gay couples it is also discriminating against LGBTQ kids.
This bill is so bad that in one section it says that people can discriminate against LGBTQ people but cannot discriminate on the basis of race.
A religious educational institution or daycare center may enforce with reasonable consistency written religious standards in its admission criteria, educational programs, student retention policies, or residential life policy, unless those standards are based on race, color, or national origin or would exclude or remove a student solely because of a prohibited classification under section 601 with respect to that student’s parent or legal guardian.
So, while the bill proposes to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 it establishes a different standard for equality for LGBTQ people. In fact, it singles out LGBTQ people for discrimination.
The ACLU explains how this Act could undermine existing protections by creating a conflict between law and court decisions.
Enter Family Research Council
Tell your Member of Congress NOT to Support the “Fairness for All” Act
Your member of Congress needs to hear from you tonight before a harmful bill is introduced tomorrow! Please set aside just a minute to take action here, and tell your member of Congress to oppose the Fairness for All Act (FFA). This is being presented as an alternative to the Equality Act, yet it would totally fail to protect our families and our religious liberty.
Like the Equality Act, this bill would overhaul our federal civil rights framework and leave many to suffer the consequences, including women, children, medical professionals, and people of faith. While FFA does include some attempts to preserve religious liberty, these attempts are feeble and provide little if any actual protection.
FRC goes on to list supposed consequences. Most are contrived and untrue. Many attack transgender people, For example:
FFA jeopardizes women’s privacy and safety.
FFA unfairly penalizes female athletes by allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports.
FFA would undermine real civil rights gains women have made.
A solution is at hand
Chuck Schumer has to persuade his caucus to change the rules from a 60 vote majority to a simple majority in order to pass the Equality Act. Standing in his way are Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Sinema is openly bisexual. President Biden has said that he is eager to sign the Equality Act into law.
If not now, when? The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except the 109th. The issue is seemingly settled by the Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County. The point is that at least 25 years have passed without any protections for LGBTQ people despite applicable measures being introduced in Congress.
How much longer must we wait?