Fairness for All Act

Ryan T. Anderson

Intransigence is a vice, but there is no virtue in accepting bad compromises. The so-called “Fairness for All” legislation is a bad compromise. To say that is not to question the good faith of the bill’s advocates. It’s merely to note that despite the goodwill of the bill’s proponents and despite its name, the bill is grievously unfair. 

The bill elevates “sexual orientation and gender identity” to a protected class in the Civil Rights Act, while also providing certain religious liberty protections. But those protections for religious liberty are insufficient. And they come at the price of legally enshrining a misguided sexual and gender ideology.

This will allow the federal government to use our civil rights laws as a sword to punish citizens who dissent from the reigning sexual orthodoxy. And it is certain to create significant harm to the common good, especially for the privacy, safety, and equality of women and girls, for the ability of doctors to practice good medicine and parents to seek good medicine for their children, and to the bodies and minds of people suffering from gender dysphoria. 

Religious freedom isn’t the only interest threatened by sexual orientation and gender identity laws. And the limited protections for religious liberty in FFA do not do anything to address the core problems with sexual orientation and gender identity laws. As a result, religious liberty protections do nothing for secular women, doctors, parents, and patients who have the same concerns about gender ideology.  

At stake are different understandings of the human person and of human nature. Elevating “sexual orientation and gender identity” to a protected class in the Civil Rights Act isn’t about “live and let live” at all. It’s about legally enforcing new norms of sexuality nationwide, with limited spaces of freedom for some religious actors. FFA effectively helps brand alternatives to the favored ideology as bigotry while carving out a limited “right to discriminate” for some “bigots.” This will do harm that the bill’s supporters fail to grapple with — harm to people’s privacy, safety, equality, and physical and mental wellbeing, along with forms of liberty — not just for religious believers, but for all dissenters from progressive gender ideology.

Everyone should be free to engage in legitimate actions based on the convictions that we are created male and female and that male and female are created for each other. Religious liberty is an important human right, but we must also protect parental rights, women’s privacy and safety, and medical professionals’ conscience rights. We must refuse to impose a misguided gender ideology on the nation. This holistic and inclusive approach would achieve true fairness for all.

  • Ryan T. Anderson

    Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., is the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the Founding Editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of five books on marriage, gender ideology, abortion, and religious liberty.

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