Protect Both Religious Freedom and LGBT Rights: Support the Fairness For All Act, Not the Equality Act

Apr 7, 2021 by

The time has come for people of faith to acknowledge reality and seek a resolution that protects both LGBT civil rights and religious liberty. The Fairness For All Act is a serious effort to reach a sustainable and balanced resolution while there’s still time.

People and institutions with traditional religious beliefs about marriage, family, gender, and sexuality face unprecedented challenges. The culture is rapidly becoming more secular as affiliation with traditional religious institutions declines. According to Gallup, in 1999 70 percent of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Two decades later, that number has dropped to 47 percent. Fewer than half of Americans are members of a house of worship.

The precipitous drop in formal religious affiliation roughly tracks the culture’s widespread embrace of same-sex marriage and expansive LGBT rights. Spurred on by compelling accounts of love, loyalty, and hardship, public support for legal same-sex marriage now stands at 67 percent (31 percent opposed), and nondiscrimination protections for LGBT persons in employment command support from about 90 percent of Americans. Corporate, media, academic, and professional leaders now strongly support expansive LGBT rights with few if any reservations. By contrast, protections for longstanding religious freedoms are routinely defamed as a “license to discriminate.” Some faith communities are revising teachings on marriage and sexuality to better accommodate LGBT perspectives.

These tectonic cultural and social shifts are both the cause and effect of equally massive political changes. The Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell holding that same-sex marriage is a federal constitutional right and the Court’s 2020 Bostock decision establishing LGBT employment rights have dramatically changed the cultural and political landscape for religious freedom. Obergefell and Bostock mean that LGBT rights are already a permanent part of our constitutional and civil rights law. The question now is whether those rights will be harmonized with religious rights or trample them.

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