21 House Republicans sponsor bill making gender identity a federally protected class

Twenty-one House Republicans are sponsoring a bill that would make sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) a federally protected class under civil rights law. The Fairness For All Act (FFAA) would also include caveats for dissenting religious institutions.

The bill was first introduced in 2019 by Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, whose district went to Donald Trump by 16 points in 2020, up by two points from the 2016 election. Stewart reintroduced the bill in February with the formal backing of 20 other GOP House members.

The 20 GOP members include: Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Burgess Owens (Utah), Fred Upton (Mich.), John Curtis (Utah), Mark Amodei (Nev.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.), Blake Moore (Utah), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Steve Stivers (Ohio), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.), Mike Simpson (Idaho), Mario Díaz-Balart (Fla.), Maria Salazar (Fla.), Jenniffer González-Colón (P.R.), Jeff Van Drew (N.J.), Carlos Gimenez (Fla.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), and Chris Jacobs (N.Y.).

When the bill was reintroduced, proponents claimed it would be a sort of “compromise” between anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and religious liberty. They also hold that the FFAA is a much more conservative alternative to the Equality Act, which is a Democratic bill that protects SOCI in U.S. civil rights law without any religious liberty exceptions.

Several recent events, however, have raised concerns about the ideology behind the bill. In an instance in Loudoun County, Virginia, a boy wearing a dress raped his 15-year-old female classmate in the public-school bathroom. He was allowed to utilize the restroom of the gender opposite his birth-assigned gender under the Virginia Department of Education’s “gender-affirming” approach to single-sex spaces.

The opponents of the FFAA say the bill would federalize gender-fluid policy framework and erase traditionally sex-based protections.

“The bill prohibits discrimination in federally funded programs,” said Ryan Anderson, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “That includes discrimination on the basis of so-called gender identity. So if your local school is receiving federal funding for the school-lunch program or something like that, that’s going to have a huge impact on all sorts of commonsense school policies…” 

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