By Katelyn Burns
A group of Republican lawmakers appears ready to try to bridge one of the most acrimonious divides in modern American politics: the gap between LGBTQ activists and religious conservatives.
On Friday, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) will introduce the Fairness For All Act, a purported compromise bill that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations — but carves out broad exemptions for churches and religious organizations.
It attempts to balance the rights of LGBTQ people while maintaining a measure of religious freedom, and serves as a response to the Equality Act, a more comprehensive bill protecting LGBTQ communities from discrimination. Earlier this year, House Democrats introduced and passed the Equality Act on a bipartisan basis, to much celebration, without a response in the Senate. Stewart’s bill will be the first time that an LGBTQ civil rights bill is introduced by conservative lawmakers, in either chamber of Congress.
“Religious freedom and LGBT rights don’t have to be in a lose-lose battle for protections in America,” Stewart said in a statement to Vox. “One of the great things about this country is that we keep improving and moving toward better outcomes. All of God’s children, regardless of sexual orientation or religion, deserve dignity, respect, and the right to pursue happiness. This legislation allows us to settle the legal questions and get back to the business of loving our neighbors.”
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