- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2019

Moderate Republicans in the House put forward pro-LGBTQ legislation on Friday that would federalize a number of anti-discrimination protections such as banning employers from firing gay employees but also leave wide exceptions for religious groups and persons or small businesses with firmly-held religious beliefs.

The bill — titled “The Fairness For All Act” — was introduced by Utah Rep. Chris Stewart and is based around a similar piece of legislation passed in his home state that banned discrimination against LGTBQ persons, save for when prohibitions are religiously motivated.

“All of God’s children, regardless of sexual orientation or religion, deserve dignity, respect, and the right to pursue happiness,” said Mr. Stewart, in a statement to the press on Friday. “This legislation allows us to settle the legal questions and get back to the business of loving our neighbors.”

Like the Equality Act, Fairness for All would build on the 1964 Civil Rights Act by including “LGBT” as a protected status in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. Contrary to the Equality Act, however, Mr. Stewart’s bill satisfies demands of right-leaning politicians who say any bill to brandish these legal protections must also allow for exemptions for persons or groups with firmly-held religious beliefs and protect the federal tax status of religious colleges, such as Brigham Young and Bethel universities.

Republicans who signed onto the legislation include Reps. Mark Amodei and Rob Bishop (Utah), David Joyce (Ohio), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania), Mike Simpson (Idaho), and Elise Stefanik (New York). No Democrats signed onto the legislation. Mr. Fitzpatrick also co-sponsored the Equality Act, joining Ms. Stefanik as two of eight Republicans to vote with Democrats to pass that legislation in May.

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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