As Albany Update recently reported, LGBT advocates are pushing for federal legislation to reshape American society and marginalize or punish dissenting voices. Thankfully, the so-called Equality Act—which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on February 25, 2021—faces dim prospects in the U.S. Senate. However, the Equality Act is not the only pro-LGBT bill being promoted in Congress.
On February 26, 2021, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT02) reintroduced the Fairness for All Act (H.R. 1440). This bill, which was previously introduced in 2019, can best be understood as a watered-down version of the Equality Act. Like the Equality Act, the Fairness for All Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories under federal civil rights laws. While the Fairness for All Act includes language that touches upon religious liberty concerns for churches, families, and businesses, that language is inadequate. As of March 4, the bill has 20 cosponsors; all 20 are Republicans, and six of those 20—Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY2), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY11), Elise Stefanik (R-NY21), Claudia Tenney (R-NY22), Tom Reed (R-NY23), and Chris Jacobs (R-NY27)—hail from the state of New York. The bill is opposed by the Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Rep. Stewart contends that the nation has “‘wasted enough time, energy, and money fighting over who deserves which legal protections.’” This characterization of the decades-long effort to defend the people of the United States from LGBT extremism is deeply confused. Persons who consider themselves gay, lesbian, or transgender are, of course, entitled to the equal protection of the laws just like all other Americans. Christians who oppose LGBT agendas do not attempt to withhold legal protections from anyone; rather, we oppose policies that damage individuals, families, and churches.
Republicans should resist the pressure to sign on to the Fairness for All Act. This legislation is based on the misguided notion that a federal law is needed on matters of sexuality and gender. Furthermore, the bill has no chance of passage in a Democratic-led Congress, as LGBT activist groups and many of their allies find it offensive and unacceptable for anyone to seek religious accommodations or conscience protections pertaining to LGBT issues. Compromise is sometimes necessary in politics; when it comes to sexuality and gender, however, conservatives should stand firm.