GOP unveils their version of LGBTQ rights bill

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The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Image by MotionStudios from Pixabay)

WASHINGTON — The GOP submitted a proposal for LGBTQ protections that also provide for religious exemptions

The Associated Press reported that the Fairness for All Act would shield LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and other public services — while also carving out exemptions for religious organizations to act based on beliefs that may exclude those of different sexual orientations or gender identities.

It was submitted by U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and has the support of the Mormon church and Seventh-Day Adventists. However, it has no backers from the Democrats, who passed the Equality Act earlier this year.

The AP reported that among the faith-based exemptions is an allowance for religious groups such as churches and schools to employ those who align with their internal guidelines,. The bill also would prohibit religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage from having their tax-exempt status revoked.

The bill doesn’t seem to make anyone happy, getting criticism from both right and left.

“The Fairness for All Act, as it is written, does not put LGBTQ people and their families on equal legal footing when it comes to being protected from discrimination, said Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “The Fairness for All Act purports to create protections for people in the LGBTQ community, but the exemptions from non-discrimination protections it includes would leave behind the most marginalized people.”

“The ‘Fairness for All’ Act is anything but fair, and it certainly does not serve all of us,” a statement from a coalition of organizations said. “It is an affront to existing civil rights protections that protect people on the basis of race, sex, and religion and creates new, substandard protections for LGBTQ people with massive loopholes and carve-outs, and upends critical federal programs that serve children in need.”

Those signing the statement included the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Center for American Progress (CAP), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), GLAAD, Lambda Legal, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Black Justice Coalition (BJC), National Fair Housing Alliance, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), PFLAG National and the Transgender Law Center.

However, the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council (FRC) also condemned the bill, calling it “Equality Act-lite.”

“By sacrificing the conscience rights of all Americans to secure a few minor carveouts, ‘Fairness for All’ represents a near-total surrender to the aggressive LGBT agenda,” said FRC president Tony Perkins. “It would legitimize discrimination against people of faith like floral artist Barronelle Stutzman, who was targeted by the government because she operated her business according to her Christian beliefs. Religious liberty includes the freedom to practice one’s faith in every area of life, not just within a religious institution or the four walls of one’s church.”

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