Why We Should Be Wary of a National Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Law

March 7, 2019
Makinzie Loeffler

Recently, some groups—including some Christian groups—have been advocating a proposal, entitled “Fairness for All”, that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as classifications in federal public accommodation, employment, and other laws.

But this proposal is anything but fair, and it poses a serious threat to religious freedom in this country – a threat that Alliance Defending Freedom has seen firsthand.

ADF Senior Counsel and Director of the Center for Christian Ministries Erik Stanley broke this down in a recent webinar.

Currently, 22 states have SOGI laws, and here at ADF, we’ve seen what a truly negative impact these laws can have. SOGI laws have been used to target many of our clients, including:

  • Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington floral artist, was sued for declining to create custom floral arrangements celebrating a same-sex wedding. She – like our many other creative professional clients such as Jack Phillips and Blaine Adamson – serves all people but doesn’t celebrate events or express messages that violate her deeply held religious beliefs.
  • Downtown Hope Center, a homeless shelter in Anchorage, Alaska, serves all people during the day and provides a women’s-only shelter at night. City officials are claiming that due to a SOGI law, the shelter needs to allow biological men who identify as female to stay overnight at the shelter. Many of the women who sleep at the shelter are victims of sexual abuse, trafficking, and domestic violence. These women should not be forced to sleep next to a man in the one-room shelter.
  • New Hope Family Services, a faith-based adoption agency, is under attack for its policy of placing children in homes with a married mother and father. Because of its religious beliefs, New Hope does not place children in homes with unwed or same-sex couples. The state of New York is attempting to force it to stop adoptions if it does not change the policy.

Fairness for All does offer some exemptions, including exemptions for churches and religious schools. But it does not provide exemptions for many of our clients – those who sit in the church pews and seek to live and work consistently with their faith.

These exemptions are not only problematic because they don’t help a majority of our clients, but also because they would create an even further divided America where some people are much freer than others.

If Fairness for All were to pass, it would expand religious freedom threats across the country. With Fairness for All, SOGI laws would apply to every state. We would end up with more cases like the ones listed above, as well as more cases involving:

  • Pronoun mandates that would require people to use the preferred pronoun based on the gender a person identifies with, not their biological sex.
  • Mandates on locker rooms, restrooms, and overnight lodging that would allow people to have access to the facilities of the opposite sex based on their perceived gender identity – without regard to the privacy and protection of women and girls.
  • Violations of rights of conscience in healthcare, where medical professionals would be required to perform surgeries with which they do not agree.

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