Fairness For All Act ‘Worse Than Nothing’ Due To Religious Exemptions

The U.S. Capitol building

The U.S. Capitol building

Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah has introduced legislation that he calls a counter proposal to the Equality Act which was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 224-206.

Like the Equality Act, Stewart says his bill, titled the Fairness For All Act (FFAA), would expand existing federal laws regarding anti-LGBTQ discrimination – but with some HUGE differences.

• Under the FFAA, faith-based adoption agencies would continue to receive federal funds but could refuse to place children with potential LGBTQ parents under the guise of ‘religious freedoms.’

• Similarly, religious schools would be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

• Additionally, while the Equality Act clearly states transgender people would have access to bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, the FFAA is vague on the issue.

• The FFAA would include an exemption that would allow businesses to refuse to serve LGBTQ people if they have fewer than 15 employees.

• While the Equality Act specifies the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) could not be used as a legal defense in court against cases of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, the FFAA would allow religious beliefs to justify discriminatory actions.

In other words, what’s the point?

“It is hard to really love our neighbors when we are fighting with them over whose rights are more important,” said Rep. Stewart in a statement. “This country can accommodate both civil liberties for LGBT individuals & religious freedom.”

Stewart’s bill has 21 Republican co-sponsors but no Democrats signed on to the legislation even though Stewart initially indicated the bill would have bipartisan support.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the sponsor of the Equality Act, told the Washington Blade that the FFAA would “very clearly be worse than nothing.”

“For the first time in our history, it would actually put in federal statute provisions that permit discrimination against the LGBTQ community,” Cicilline told the Blade. “It would be a tremendous step backward, which is why it’s not supported by any major LGBT organization, all of the major LGBT organizations support the Equality Act.”

“The Stewart bill is a tremendous step backward in our fight for full equality,” added Cicilline.

(source: Washington Blade)

President Biden Urges Swift Passage Of Equality Act

President Joe Biden issues a statement of full support to LGBTQ+ people on National Coming Out Day
President Joe Biden

In an official statement from the White House, President Biden calls on Congress to “swiftly pass” the Equality Act:

I applaud Congressman David Cicilline and the entire Congressional Equality Caucus for introducing the Equality Act in the House of Representatives yesterday, and I urge Congress to swiftly pass this historic legislation.

Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.

Full equality has been denied to LGBTQ+ Americans and their families for far too long. Despite the extraordinary progress the LGBTQ+ community has made to secure their basic civil rights, discrimination is still rampant in many areas of our society.

The Equality Act provides long overdue federal civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, locking in critical safeguards in our housing, education, public services, and lending systems — and codifying the courage and resilience of the LGBTQ+ movement into enduring law.

On my first day in office, I was proud to sign an Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. I directed agencies to implement the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling, and fully enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Now, it’s time for Congress to secure these protections once and for all by passing the Equality Act — because no one should ever face discrimination or live in fear because of who they are or whom they love.

The Equality Act, formally reintroduced in the House on Thursday, would ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination throughout the nation. The act would amend existing civil rights laws to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The legislation passed in the House in 2019 with a bipartisan 236-173 vote but was never given a vote in the Senate.

(via WhiteHouse.gov)

Podcast: The Equality Act, Utah’s hate crimes law, Pete Buttigieg, Out Recording Artist NIKO Releases New EP

In this week’s podcast:

• The Equality Act is reintroduced in Congress

• Donald Trump finally fills appointments to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

• Utah moves towards a more effective hate crimes law

• Openly gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg qualifies for the first Democratic presidential debate

• Ireland’s gay prime minister meets with uber-anti-gay Vice President Mike Pence

• Out recording artist NIKO releases his new EP

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Only Two Democrats Refuse To Support The Equality Act

With much fanfare, the Equality Act – which would add LGBT protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – was reintroduced in Congress this week.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Senate Bill 788 has 43 Democratic sponsors, two Independent sponsors, and one Republican sponsor, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Only one Democrat in the Senate did not sign on to the legislation, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin didn’t sponsor the legislation when it was introduced in 2017, either.

And when marriage equality became the law of the land in 2015, his office only issued a tepid one-sentence statement urging people to abide by the law.

Similarly, in the House of Representatives, the Equality Act has 239 cosponsors: 237 Democrats and 2 Republicans – Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY).

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) is the lone Democrat who did not sign on for the bill.

Lipinski has a squirrel-y history as a Democrat.

He was the only Democrat to sponsor the First Amendment Defense Act, which seeks to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination nationwide. And, he voted FOR the hateful Defense of Marriage Act.

When the Equality Act was last introduced in the House in 2017, he voted against it.

The Equality Act adds LGBT protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, as well as the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.

Recent polling shows a supermajority of Americans support the legislation.

Additionally, 165 major American businesses have issued a statement of support for the Equality Act.

From FCKH8: “What’s Our Year?”

The newest spot from FCKH8.com spotlights that despite progress in so many other areas, laws across the country continue to deny gay people basic anti-discrimination protections on the job.

In the video, people from various walks of life – women, blacks, disabled people – each identify major civil rights milestones in America.

Each speaker represents a year when others like them were finally offered legal protection from discrimination in the U.S. – from African Americans becoming citizens in 1866, to people with disabilities getting access to public places through the Americans with Disabilities ACT in 1990. Each is wearing a T-shirt printed with the year they gained a fundamental right.

When the two gay men holding hands who are the video’s final subject are revealed, their T-shirts display question marks. “It’s 2015, and there is still no federal law protecting LGBT people against discrimination. What’s our year?” they plead.

Matt Baume Debunks Crazy Stuff About The Equality Act

Matt Baume debunks myths being touted about the recently introduced-in-Congress Equality Act:

There’s a Big Gay Loophole in the Civil Rights Act that doesn’t cover LGBTs.

The proposed Equality Act would patch it up, but of course, opponents of equality are making up all kinds of crazy claims about why the Big Gay Loophole should stay open forever.

Fortunately, their reasons are completely absurd, so it shouldn’t be too hard to knock ‘em down.

Equality Act Introduced In Congress With Major Corporate Support

Today the Equality Act, a comprehensive federal LGBT rights bill, was introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, and Representative David Cicilline, has more than 140 cosponsors in the House, including Representative John Lewis, and at least 39 in the Senate.

The Human Rights Campaign has already brought three major corporations on board.

STATEMENT BY APPLE – “At Apple we believe in equal treatment for everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. We fully support the expansion of legal protections as a matter of basic human dignity.”

STATEMENT BY THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY – “Dow applauds the introduction of the Equality Act and continues to support a comprehensive federal framework that ensures fairness and opportunity for everyone. Full inclusion of our LGBT colleagues and citizens is quite simply the right thing to do – for business and for society.”

STATEMENT BY LEVI STRAUSS & CO. – “Levi Strauss & Co. is proud to support the Equality Act. We have a long history of supporting LGBT equality, and the time has come in this country for full, federal equality for the LGBT community. Ensuring fairness in our workplaces and communities is both the right thing to do and simply good business.”

Each of the three major companies scored a perfect 100 on HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a nationally recognized benchmark of LGBT inclusion in the workplace, and were recognized on HRC’s list of Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality in 2015.

“These remarkable companies have proven once again their tremendous leadership on behalf of LGBT Americans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Time and again, these leaders of Corporate America have asked ‘what more can we do?,’ and each time they’ve stepped up to the plate and delivered. As the fight for full, federal equality enters a new chapter, I am tremendously thankful that we have these champions standing shoulder to shoulder with us.”

(via press release)