COLUMN: Ballot box: Fairness for “All”

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Local, state or federal legislation should never be based on religious affiliations or moral compasses; however, the Fairness for All Act, sponsored by Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, does just that. 

This act, presented to the House of Representatives on Dec. 6, is nothing more than protection for LGBT segregation wrapped in a worse edition of the Equality Act, which was passed through the House in May 2019.

In this multi-faceted bill, small businesses and religious institutions would be able to turn away LGBT citizens on the biases of religion, would include the terms “sexual orientation and gender identity” to civil rights laws, and would grant a license to discriminate in child welfare.

There are supposedly good aspects to both sides, which is why the bill is being introduced as a compromise bill.

According to Stanley Carlson-Thies, from the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance and adviser for the bill, “We want to do the right thing by gay rights, but we think you have to do the right thing by religious freedom, too.”

In today’s political climate, more compromises are needed, but the protections being offered to the LGBT community are already present in the Equality Act. Therefore, the only ones who would benefit from this bill would be those who do not want to respect the constitutional rights of minorities.

When doing right by one group means imposing on the constitutional protections of another; however, the precedence has to lay on the side of the law.

This may be why a handful of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and others have come out in opposition to the bill. These are all groups that are dedicated to protecting the rights of underrepresented, commonly discriminated citizens; the fact all groups disagree with the ideas in the “Fairness to All” Act speaks volumes.

In a joint statement, these groups stated: “The ‘Fairness for All’ Act is anything but fair, and it certainly does not serve all of us. It is an affront to existing civil rights protections that protect people on the basis of race, sex, and religion and creates new, substandard protections for LGBT people with massive loopholes and carve-outs, and upends critical federal programs that serve children in need.”

On Jan. 28, staff members from Chris Stewart’s office will be visiting Dixie State University to discuss this legislation and gain input from students. This is your opportunity to share your ideas and truly make a difference in the legislative process.

You can also contact your senators and express your support for the Equality Act.