The bill preserves religious freedom and protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expressed support Friday for the federal Fairness for All Act introduced at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. by nine members of Congress from seven states. The Church joins a broad coalition of bill supporters, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the 1st Amendment Partnership, the American Unity Fund, the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and the Center for Public Justice.

The following is the Church’s full statement:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commends the introduction of federal legislation that seeks to preserve religious freedom and protect LGBT individuals from discrimination. We’re grateful for the leadership of Utah Representative Chris Stewart and other congressional supporters of this cause. The nation is more united when diverse individuals and groups can work cooperatively to advance sound policy. Alongside other religious organizations and denominations and important leaders of the LGBT community, the Church endorses this balanced approach that fosters greater fairness for all.

The Church backed a fairness for all approach to legislation in 2015 when it supported a bill passed in the Utah legislature that both protected religious freedom and banned discrimination in housing and employment against LGBT people.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy joined coalition members at a news conference at the Utah Capitol to promote the bill on Monday, December 9, 2019.

“Many today are understandably concerned about increased political divisions within our society,” said Elder Gerard, executive director of the Church’s Communication Department. “The kind of judicious approach that is on display here today, the kind of cooperation and collaborative spirit, should give us all a little more hope, particularly at this time of year. The work of this group is a testament that we are all more united when diverse individuals come together to advance a balanced approach that fosters fairness for all.”

Read the full text of the Church Newsroom Article published Friday, December 6

According to Deseret News,

The Fairness for All Act will face an uphill battle in Congress, as well as pushback from prominent LGBTQ rights groups and some religious leaders who object to the bill’s approach. But its supporters hope, at the very least, it will contribute to more constructive debates.

What’s the Difference Between the Fairness for All Act and the Equality Act?

Under the Fairness for All Act, it would be illegal for an employer to fire someone for being gay or a landlord to kick someone out of their apartment for being transgender. But at the same time, it would also be illegal to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status if the pastor preaches that same-sex marriage is a sin or prevent faith-based organizations from participating in federal funding programs.

The House of Representatives passed similar legislation earlier this year, called the Equality Act, which also aims to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics protected under existing civil rights law.

According to Schultz, who is president of the 1st Amendment Partnership and served as an adviser for the bill, the Fairness for All Act

“It’s very much like the Equality Act in terms of what it gives to LGBT individuals, but unlike the Equality Act in that it also provides very robust protections for religious individuals and institutions…

…The Fairness for All Act is an effort to show that it’s possible to protect members of the LGBTQ community and religious freedom at the same time.”

The Fairness for All Act is the result of more than three years of dialogue between a diverse coalition of legal experts, LGBTQ rights activists and religious organizations, including representatives from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, 1st Amendment Partnership, the National Association of Evangelicals and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The most prominent LGBTQ organization involved is the American Unity Fund, which is politically conservative.

Read the full text of the Fairness for All Act (FFA), H.R. 5331.

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