WASHINGTON – Today, national advocacy groups including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Center for American Progress (CAP), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Lambda Legal, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Fair Housing Alliance, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), PFLAG and the Transgender Law Center expressed strong opposition to the so-called “Fairness For All” Act, as introduced in Congress. If enacted, this bill would undermine civil rights protections for women, people of color and people of faith and create substandard protections for LGBTQ people. In a joint statement, the groups wrote:
The “Fairness for All” Act is anything but fair, and it certainly does not serve all of us. It is an affront to existing civil rights protections that protect people on the basis of race, sex and religion; creates new, substandard protections for LGBTQ people with massive loopholes and carve-outs; and upends critical federal programs that serve children in need.
This legislation is deeply dangerous for many reasons, mainly because it would erode protections that already exist for people based on race, sex and religion, rolling back protections that have been on the books for decades. It would expand the number of places and situations in which lawful discrimination could occur.
At the same time, it would introduce new, problematic provisions purportedly seeking to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity with broad exemptions, essentially licensing discrimination against LGBTQ people and women. Communities of color, who suffer from disproportionately higher rates of discrimination and harassment, would be especially vulnerable to harm under these broad exemptions. Our nation’s existing civil rights framework already strikes the right balance when it comes to the government’s interest in protecting religious freedom and advancing nondiscrimination, and it is wrong to put into law a different system of protections for LGBTQ people and their families.
This legislation would create a “double whammy” for anyone at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities: a black lesbian or transgender Jewish woman, for example, could see many of her existing rights erased or rolled back, ostensibly to protect her.
The Equality Act was passed through the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, and nearly 70 percent of Americans support comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The “Fairness for All” Act, on the other hand, was introduced by a small group of lawmakers. This legislation licenses discrimination while eroding the rights of people of faith.
It is wrong, and we strongly oppose it.
LGBTQ people deserve full federal equality – nothing more and nothing less. The Equality Act, which has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority, would ensure clear and equal protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people throughout daily life while expanding protections for communities of color, people of faith and women.
The Equality Act has broad, growing support and clear momentum. Over the last several years, more than 260 leading companies, more than 60 national trade associations and more than 500 civil rights, religious, medical and social welfare organizations have joined with the LGBTQ community to support the Equality Act.