Exclusive — Transgender: Republican Compromisers Push ‘Fairness for All’ Bill

Representative Chris Stewart, R-Utah, questions Ambassador Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council, testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin / POOL / AFP) (Photo by …
JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced a compromise bill, along with 20 Republican co-sponsors, that he says will protect religious liberty while “broadly” providing protections for transgender individuals in public “accommodations” and “employment.”

In a telephone interview Thursday with Breitbart News, Stewart said his federal Fairness for All Act is based on his state’s Utah Compromise.

“But, we knew that when we came to the federal side, it was going to be, you know, much harder to do than at the state level, and that it was going to take time to put a coalition together, and then time to get our Democrats involved,” he said, elaborating on his thinking about whether Democrats will join in supporting the legislation.

“I think it’s moving forward,” Stewart said. “I think our Democratic colleagues were putting a lot of hope in the Equality Act. And I think they realize that’s probably not going to go forward in the Senate. I think they also thought that the courts would be more friendly to them and I think they look at the Supreme Court and realize that’s probably not true any longer. And, so, I think that opens up some, some of them towards looking at a compromise bill that can actually pass. And that’s why we’re, we’re cautiously optimistic that we can continue to make progress on the Fairness for All.”

Breitbart News asked Stewart what he thought about current events in local school districts as American families from both parties have voiced concerns about the infiltration of LGBTQ activism in classrooms, women’s sports, and in medicine – in terms of recent state bans against transgender treatments and surgeries for children.

The congressman described the Fairness for All legislation as “broader” and “mute” on all these issues, leaving them to individual states and local communities to decide them.

“When you look at some of the things that are happening around the world, and especially in education around the country, in education, it’s infuriating for any one of us who are social conservatives,” Stewart said. “But it’s important to remember too that the Fairness for All is not intended to address those issues. We are mute on those issues. We allow the states in the local communities to address those issues as they should. It’s not our intention to address those issues. The Fairness for All is much more broad than that. Its purpose is to protect in housing and public accommodations and to protect religious liberty in doing that. And we leave all of these other issues to the local communities to the states as they should.”

When asked why states need a federal law that, as he said, is “not a federal mandate,” that would push them to decide transgender rights and religious liberty issues for themselves, Stewart replied, “It would just be impossible for us to put legislation that would address all of those issues.”

“There’s far too many of them,” he said. “There’s so many variables that could come into play. We knew it would be impossible for us to address those, so this is just something we’re trying to do that is much more broad, and actually something we could pass and once again, my primary motive in doing this is because of my fear that religious liberty is under threat.”

But Jon Schweppe, who serves as Director of Policy and Government Affairs at American Principles Project, wrote at his Substack column Tuesday that Stewart’s bill is yet another example of Republicans believing they should “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Schweppe wrote “some Republicans love to negotiate against themselves”:

For all intents and purposes, the “Equality” Act is dead this Congress. Republicans are set to take back the House and possibly the Senate in 2022. Joe Biden’s approval numbers are tanking. Republicans are taking on gender ideology like never before — just look at what Glenn Youngkin is doing in Virginia. Things are looking up, right? There’s simply no reason to give an inch on this issue.

When asked by Breitbart News how a school principal, a teacher, a pediatrician, or an employer could be accused of “discrimination” on the basis of gender identity if the Fairness for All bill would become law, Stewart responded, “Well, again, I don’t think we address that specifically, we don’t talk about a high school or a leader of a, you know, local school community.”

“There is language in there which codifies the definition of transgender,” he said. “So, for example, it doesn’t allow someone who can put on a skirt in the morning and say, I’m a transgender today, and I’m therefore going to use the women’s rest room today.”

Stewart stressed the bill’s requirement for private spaces for young people.

“There’s privacy for everyone, regardless of their sex,” he stated, noting the definition of “transgender” in the bill is “to be provided by evidence of, including medical history, care of treatment of gender identity, consistent and uniform assertion of gender identity, or other evidence that the gender identity is sincerely held.”

“So, in other words, the person who is conveniently identifying as transgendered wouldn’t be protected under this legislation,” he asserted.

The Fairness for All Act and its model legislation, the Utah Compromise of 2015, has been criticized by conservatives as still creating protected classes of people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and by the left as a “dangerous LGBT Trojan horse” that does not provide special protections for transgender individuals due to its religious liberty carveouts.

Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., now president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote at the Heritage Foundation in 2017 the concept of “Fairness for All” is “fundamentally misguided”:

The most prominent model for creating specific LGBT policies while showing concern for religious freedom is known as “Fairness for All,” a phrase used by proponents to describe a law first adopted in Utah and similar proposals in other states and potentially at the national level. This approach creates new protected classes in antidiscrimination law based on sexual orientation and gender identity and then grants limited exemptions and protections, mainly to religious organizations.

Proponents of “Fairness for All” do not argue the need for sexual orientation and gender identity laws robustly, with facts and studies, and thus elide the question of whether that need requires SOGI [sexual orientation and gender identity] laws to address it as opposed to some less drastic measure or measures.

In 2016, Anderson joined Princeton University Professor Robert George in a piece at the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse in which the two scholars mapped out how liberty and SOGI laws are an “impossible and unsustainable ‘compromise.’”

Compromise bills such as the one adopted in Utah actually “do not protect fairness for all,” and “do not establish a compromise,” Anderson and George argued.

Fairness for All measures “establish the principle that sexual orientation (and gender identity) should be protected classes like race,” and subsequently support the notion that beliefs that men and women are biologically distinct are “irrational and unjust,” they wrote.

The press release from Stewart’s office states the Fairness for All Act is backed by the Alliance for Lasting Liberty Coalition, consisting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, American Unity Fund, Center for Public Justice, 1st Amendment Partnership, The Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, and others.

Republican cosponsors of the legislation are: Rep. Fred Upton (MI-06), Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Rep. John Curtis (UT-03), Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-02), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), Rep. Andrew Garbarino (NY-02), Rep. Blake Moore (UT-01), Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04), Rep. Carlos Gimenez (FL-26), Rep. Chris Jacobs (NY-27), Rep. Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Rep. Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Rep. Maria Salazar (FL-27), Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (FL-25),  Rep. Mike Simpson (ID-02), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15), and Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23).

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