Resources

Find resources below to better understand the Fairness For All Act

Fairness for All Act: Read the bill text here!

Fact Sheets

  • Background: Fairness for All Act

    There is growing bipartisan interest in balanced legislation that ensures lasting religious freedom and provides protections for LGBT Americans. Unlike the Equality Act and the First Amendment Defense Act, a balanced proposal can be enacted into law and resolve many of the key conflicts between religious and LGBT rights.

    Under the leadership of Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a number of members from both parties are in negotiations to introduce the Fairness for All Act in the House. Companion legislation is also expected to be introduced in the Senate. This proposal echoes legislation that has been already been enacted in many states, including Utah.

    This bill will have the support of many state and national LGBT organizations and diverse religious organizations—organizations that disagree on the definition of marriage but agree on supporting LGBT nondiscrimination and broad religious rights.

    Important Elements of Fairness for All Act

    • Prohibits LGBT discrimination in employment
    • Protects churches, religious schools, and other religious charities by ensuring they can employ those who adhere to their beliefs and standards.
    • Prohibits LGBT and sex discrimination in public accommodations.
    • Protects religious properties from being treated as places of public accommodation.
    • Protects the conscience of medical providers and marriage counselors.
    • Prohibits LGBT and sex discrimination in federal funding
    • Protects ability of religious adoption and foster care providers to continue to serve using a model drawn from the longstanding federal child care program.Protects houses of worship, religious schools, and other faith- based entities that receive federal funds (e.g., Pell Grants, security grants, school lunch) so they can continue to operate according to their religious beliefs.
    • Guarantees greater personal privacy for everyone in restrooms, showers and similar facilities.
    • Governments—including state and local governments—cannot retaliate against protected religious persons and organizations.
    • Prohibits LGBT discrimination in housing, credit, and jury service.
    • Abortion neutral—no change in federal abortion law or policy.
    • Preserves Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

     

  • The Fairness for All Act protects the rights of LGBT Americans by amending the Civil Rights Act.

    Passed in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was a landmark legislative achievement for the civil rights movement. It outlawed racial discrimination and segregation in:

    • employment
    • housing
    • public accommodations like hotels
    • public education
    • federally assisted programs
    •  Over time, federal civil rights law has been amended to apply to additional categories (e.g.  age, disability, and sex). These various categories are protected in somewhat different ways—how sweeping the protection is differs, or it may be subject to other rights, such as religious freedom.

    The Fairness for All Act expands the Civil Rights Act’s definition of a “protected class” to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

    • A protected class is a specific characteristic about a group of people that has unique protection under the law.
    • The Fairness for All Act adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes.

    The Fairness for All Act expands the groups eligible for protection under the Civil Rights Act, but it does not erode or change the protections currently available to groups that are already covered.

    The Fairness for All Act broadens the definition of “religion” and “religious” in the Civil Rights Act.

    •  The term “religious” will now include all aspects of religious practice, providing additional protections against discrimination to religious people and faith-based organizations.

    The Fairness for All Act expands the number of religious organizations entitled to protection under the Civil Rights Act.

    • By revising the definition of what constitutes a “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society,” the FFA Act offers more religious groups protection from discrimination claims.

    The Fairness for All Act expands protections for religious employees of all faiths.

    • The FFA Act requires businesses to better accommodate the religious exercise of their employees, such as by allowing them to wear religious symbols like a cross or religious clothing or to take time off for Sabbath worship.
  • In current federal civil rights law, women are currently protected from discrimination in housing and employment. However, there is no federal law that prevents sex discrimination in public accommodations. (Most, but not all, states protect women against discrimination in public accommodations.)

    The Fairness for All Act adds “sex” to the public accommodations protections in our federal civil rights laws.

    • If Congress passes the Fairness for All Act, it will achieve a historic first for women.
    • It will be the first time women will be protected from discrimination in public accommodations under federal law.
  • Transgender men and women use restrooms and locker rooms for the same reasons everyone else does. And when they do, they value safety and privacy just like everyone else.

    It’s already a crime to enter a restroom or a locker room to harm someone.  With or without this bill, illegal behavior is illegal.

    Protections for transgender persons like those found in the Fairness for All Act work.

    • For years, over 20 states and more than 200 municipalities already have laws protecting transgender people from discrimination.

    The FFA Act explicitly prohibits people from asserting gender identity for any “improper purpose.”

    • Nothing in this law weakens existing laws against illegal behavior. Assault and harassment remain illegal.

    The FFA Act expands privacy by requiring public schools, public accommodations, and employers to accommodate requests for additional privacy. This will increase the availability of private, single-user facilities for everyone.

    Provisions like those in the FFA Act have widespread support from hundreds of organizations across the country.

    • More than 250 organizations that do work to prevent and treat survivors of violence support laws that protect transgender people in restrooms and locker rooms.
    • These include The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, The National Center for Victims of Crime, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and more.
  • Religious people are often faced with losing their job or violating their right of conscience in the workplace. 

    • In 2018, the EECO the EEOC received 2,859 complaints of religious discrimination
    • Religiously-motivated hate crimes are on the rise. For example, hate crimes against Jewish individuals in America rose by an alarming 37% in 2017, according to the FBI
    • In 2017, 20% of all hate crimes targeted people simply because of their religion

    LGBT persons face continued, widespread discrimination.

    • More than half of LGBT Americans have experienced some form of harassment or discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a recent Harvard study
    • One in five surveyed have been discriminated against in the process of applying for a job (20%), being paid equally or considered for a promotion (22%) or buying or renting a home (22%)
    • The FBI documented a five percent increase in hate crimes directed against LGBT individuals in 2017

    Americans show broad support for LGBT nondiscrimination protections.

    • Nearly seven in ten (69%) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the job market, public accommodations, and housing

    Protecting LGBT Americans from employment discrimination is the one cultural issue that has overwhelming support from Americans on both sides of the aisle. 

    • A new study shows 83% of both Democrats and Republicans support passing legislation that ends LGBT discrimination in the work place

     

  • Public Accommodation as Currently Defined

    • Federal civil rights law makes it illegal to discriminate against certain groups of people in businesses and other spaces that are generally open to the public.
      • Under federal law, these places are known as “public accommodations.”
      • Examples:
        • A disabled individual must be able to access a service center or recreational facility.
        • A restaurant cannot refuse to serve a customer because of their race or ethnicity.
    • There are many businesses and services that you might think of as “public accommodations,” but they aren’t actually covered by current federal law, like clothing stores and cupcake shops.

    Fairness for All Expands the Definition of Public Accommodations

    • Fairness for All expands the definition of “public accommodation” so that almost all businesses that serve the public are covered under federal law.
      • Fairness for All does not pre-empt state law regarding public accommodations
      • Fairness for All does not erode the protections that black Americans currently receive under federal civil rights law.
    • Fairness for All also expands the groups of people the groups of people covered by “public accommodation” protections to include LGBT Americans and sex.

    The Cake Baker

    • Many of the conflicts that have arisen between LGBT citizens and religious business owners stem from certain business owners’ inability to facilitate or celebrate a same-sex wedding ceremony.
      • By facilitating the ceremony, these business owners believe they would be blessing a concept of marriage that goes against their deeply held religious convictions.
    • The vast majority of business owners with these objections are small businesses, such as the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
    • The new definition of “public accommodation” does not apply to businesses with 14 or fewer employees.
      • This provision ensures that small business owners can live their faith without threat of economic ruin or loss of their livelihood due to onerous lawsuits.
      • This provision also ensures that LGBT Americans have federally protected access to the vast majority of businesses and facilities that are open to the general public and have that access on equal terms with other protected classes, like religion.
    • Examples:
      • Under FFA, a cake baker with two employees is not considered a “public accommodation” and may refuse to make a custom cake.
      • Under FFA, a cake baker with 15 or more employees who refused to make a custom cake could face a federal lawsuit. (Like any other business or person, however, this cake baker may appeal to the constitutional defenses laid out in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision or appeal to RFRA.)

    Any business that was a public accommodation before FFA remains a public accommodation.

For more information about the Fairness for All initiative from Robin Fretwell Wilson, click here.

See what leading First Amendment scholars are saying about the Fairness for All Act.

How Will Fairness For All Affect Me?
These two charts show how the Fairness For All Act would affect LGBT persons and people of faith.
Which Approach Works Best? Fairness For All, FADA, or the Equality Act?
This chart shows three legislative approaches: FADA, Fairness For All, and the Equality Act, and compares the outcomes of each piece of legislation.