Since mid-2015, IRFA has been a leader in an initiative to develop and push to congressional adoption a set of changes to federal civil rights policy that will provide new protections for the civil rights of LGBTQ people while correspondingly strengthening protections in the law for institutional and individual religious freedom. The goal is that the law and government policy will promote ways and places for people who affirm LGBTQ identities and relationships, on the one hand, and people and organizations that maintain conservative convictions about human sexuality, on the other, to interact well with each other. Modeling exemplary conduct and relationships, discussion, research, prayer, personal bridge-building—these ought to be the way people interact across this division, not by seeking to use government to outlaw the other side.
This initiative, the Fairness for All coalition and proposed legislation, includes, besides IRFA and the Center for Public Justice, several faith communities and a range of LGBTQ rights advocates and organizations. IRFA first began such both-and legislative work in 2007, when Congress began wrestling more constructively to devise an Employment Nondiscrimination Act that would protect the rights and freedoms of both LGBTQ employees and religious employers.
The Fairness for All bill—H.R. 1440 in the 117th Congress—proposes amendments to the core federal civil rights laws to provide legal protections both for those who affirm and those who do not affirm LGBTQ sexuality and relationships. Protections are proposed for employment, housing, government-funded services, public accommodations, jury service, and access to consumer credit. Detailed solutions are proposed to provide “fairness for all,” given our divisions, in such sensitive areas as adoption and foster care services, religious schools and higher education, residential facilities, and government-supported marriage-strengthening programs.
Additional resources on Fairness for All:
Aden, Steven H., and Stanley W. Carlson-Thies. “Catch or Release? the Employment Non-Discrimination Act’s Exemption for Religious Organizations.” Engage 11, no. 2 (2010): 4–9.
Stewart, Chris, and Gene Schaerr. “Why Conservative Religious Organizations and Believers Should Support the Fairness for All Act.” Journal of Legislation 46, no. 2 (2020): 134–206.
Eskridge, Jr., William N., and Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds. Religious Freedom, Lgbt Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2019.