Salt Lake City Meeting Questions
- What assumptions are being made to determine that the time for comprehensive protections is now?
At least 60 Senate votes are needed to pass federal protections for LGBTQ people. As the Democratic party is the only major party platform to have officially endorsed LGBTQ rights, it is essential to take advantage of the opportunity their control of the House, Senate, and White House presents. June 2022 (Pride Month) is the best opportunity to do so with this Congress, before Fall election matters take center stage. Adding to the sense of urgency, many political prognosticators believe the House could flip to a Republican majority this November and not return to Democratic control until 2030 at the earliest. Gay rights were first introduced to Congress in the early 1970s and still have not passed. We cannot wait another year or decade.
- How does this effort fit into long-term engagement with religious partners?
Religious groups have wide-ranging views on sexuality and marriage. More and more conservative faith organizations are endorsing civil rights protections for gay and transgender people, even if they are not changing their internal theology. Their willingness to advocate for LGBTQ rights in the civil space while still retaining their religious beliefs is essential to gaining Republican support. Additionally, the majority of LGBTQ people are also people of faith.
- How do we prevent unintended consequences?
The best way to prevent unintended consequences is to get a bill passed. Otherwise we leave it all up to the courts, where there will assuredly be unintended consequences resulting from the patchwork of rulings to come, especially given the hundreds of Trump appointed Federal judges and the new conservative Supreme Court.
- How do we do this work without undermining or devaluing the Bostock decision?
By codifying Bostock as a part of the larger package, we validate the constitutional finding of the Supreme Court with a law that reflects that finding. Additionally, codification helps ensure it cannot be chipped away at by courts like other Supreme Court decisions have been over time.
- How do we ensure this does not erode reproductive rights?
Abortion neutrality language which mirrors abortion neutrality language used for decades, including in the Affordable Care Act, will erect a statutory firewall and ensure that this bill does not change reproductive rights in any way.
- Does this affect education and students in schools?
The framework includes the Safe Schools Improvement Act which serves to reduce bullying by requiring schools to teach and act against it. The framework also includes provisions to ensure free speech for students. The framework makes no changes to Title IX. Finally, some religious schools who do not otherwise accept government money do take money for the free and reduced lunch program. For those schools, there is an exception, meaning that accepting that money alone does not subject the school to the non-discrimination and other requirements of Title VI.
- What happens if this passes and the message of ‘ending conversion therapy’ creates a false victory?
This framework, if legislated, will end the vast majority of conversion therapy, including all conversion therapy that is paid for with federal dollars. By specifically defining what conversion therapy is, we are attempting to avoid false narratives and reduce confusion that might lead to any false or misleading messages. The framework’s provisions eliminate conversion therapy in the ways allowable by law and the Constitution and also retain the religious freedom protections for pastors and clergy that are constitutionally necessary, even if morally objectionable.
- Will this address transgender athletes in school?
This framework will build a bipartisan coalition that will support legislation that addresses fairness and nondiscrimination in the largest sense and will support deferring to expert bodies, like the governing bodies of national and international athletics, on how to create inclusive standards in athletic competition. The broad establishment of inclusive federal protections for LGBTQ people will create a supportive environment for these smaller governing bodies to establish their methods for fairness and inclusion of trans people.
- Have conversations occurred with other organizations?
The Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition (EFC) believes in building support from the ground up. Our first conversations have been with local and state organizations in red and purple states. We have done this to intentionally build support from those most impacted from a lack of federal legislation. By including multiple provisions in our framework, we believe we are supporting the work done by champions of many issues, while also focusing our efforts to build support for this work in the places most impacted by a lack of federal protections.
- How are you defining conversion therapy? Will the definition include or exclude life coaching?
As a coalition one of our core organizing principles is ending conversion therapy through federal legislation. We define conversion therapy as any practice or treatment that promotes or profits from the idea that an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed.
- How will Indigenous people be impacted?
Non-retaliation provisions apply to indigenous tribes. Additionally, many tribal communities would benefit from religious protections in general and specifically for minority faiths. Lastly, this framework preserves and expands all existing protections for people based on race, color, or national origin. Full stop.
- What are the implications for eliminating Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) carve outs?
Legal protections for LGBTQ people and religious freedom are not oppositional ideas or practices. By working to protect the rights of both LGBTQ people and people of faith, we can end the false narratives of the culture wars that pit our communities against one another.
- Which Republicans will come along with this bill if it includes public accommodations rather than just housing and employment?
Ensuring the full rights and citizenship of LGBTQ and all Americans is an idea that does not belong to any one political party. We believe that this coalition, our core principles, and our bipartisan track record allow Republicans, Democrats, and independents to support this work fully.
- With reasonable accommodations for privacy, could a trans woman in a space be targeted by others saying “I need more privacy”?
Under this framework specifically, a person can request additional privacy, but not in a way that targets or in any way diminishes the rights of a trans person, or any other person for that matter. In other words, the person requesting privacy could be offered a private room to change in, but not that trans people, or any other person, be required to change elsewhere.
- Do you expect corporate pressure about lowering the employee number threshold of applicability for Title VII?
No, there are enough states that already codify their protections below the federal standard that this change will not be difficult for corporations.
- Is this a proposal for standalone legislation or for amendments?
Currently, the Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition believes this framework would best be constructed as substantial amendments to SB 5, The Equality Act. However, none of us are U.S. senators, and at the end of the day it is up to those supporting senators to come together to decide what legislative vehicle is best. This framework, however, is meant to be a well thought out consensus document that they can work from.
- Is the framework the beginnings of proposed language or just principles?
It is an outline for legislation that amends the Equality Act based on already proposed or passed legislation at both the state and federal levels.
- Have conservative religious partners signed off on these amendments?
As it stands, the official partners are the organizations who have agreed to support the framework and principles. We are beginning the invitation process for groups across the political and faith spectrum. Dozens of conservative faith organizations and leaders have publicly endorsed the Fairness for All Act which contains specific legislative language embodying many of the values of the Equality and Fairness for All framework.
- Regarding educational institutions, would this change the status quo that allows Catholic schools to discriminate in employment against married couples?
No. It is a longstanding legal precedent that religious organizations are allowed to discriminate based on religion in hiring. That includes enforcing specific standards of behavior consistent with their religious beliefs. This protection is especially strong for religious schools. Though this framework preserves the status quo for religious organizations, it grants protections to most other employees. Additionally, for religious organizations other than churches, schools, or religious denominations, this exemption only applies to them if they only hire co-religionists.
- What about religious leaders who have supported the Equality Act so far?
We welcome all leaders--faith and LGBTQ--to the table to have these discussions on forging a path forward to ensure protections for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. There is room in this coalition for those who have supported both the Equality Act and the Fairness for All Americans Act, as long as they are ready to work together under the principles and framework.
- Can we be part of the Alliance for Lasting Liberty (ALL) Coalition or the Freedom and Opportunity for All Americans (FOAA) Coalition?
The EFC invites both these tables and their constituent organizations to join our efforts. The EFC is a bipartisan space for LGBTQ, religious, business, and community organizations to unite under the common banner of our principles and framework to win federal protections for LGBTQ people.
- What do we want religious folks who support this to do?
We want anyone who supports the principles and framework to join the Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition and work with us to win federal protections for LGBTQ people and all Americans.
- What are the red lines that won’t be crossed? Who will decide?
Our principles reflect our redlines. This framework is about advancing civil rights protections and therefore anything that would erode existing protections will not be supported by the coalition.
- Who are the coalition decision makers?
The executive committee is an 8 member body, with 7 voting members. ONE Community, Equality Arizona, Equality North Carolina, Wyoming Equality, Fairness West Virginia, Georgia Equality, and Equality Florida have been invited to serve as voting members and the American Unity Fund as a non-voting member. Decisions will be made with a 5 to 2 majority.
- What happens if we can’t agree?
This is a coalition that individuals and groups choose to join. If members do not agree with the Executive Committees votes they are free to voice their concern and are free to unaffiliate if they should choose to.
- How do we prevent a fractured movement?
Social movements are complicated entities. However, history does not support the idea that presenting multiple ideas, paths forward, or strategies for public policy will result in fracturing of a social movement. In fact, if we look at our past, it is clear that multiple strategies are key to protecting the rights of marginalized people.
- How do we loop in others?
Please share the EFFA website far and wide. This is the best first step for organizations and individuals, if they are interested in winning federal protections for LGBTQ people.
- Who’s funding this?
Major financial support has been provided by American Unity Fund (AUF). ONE Community and Equality Arizona have acted as fiscal sponsors and contributors for major portions of the coalition’s work to-date. Please reach out to anyone of these organizations, or any other member of the Coalition Executive Committee, if you are interested in providing additional financial or in-kind support.
- Who are the bill sponsors?
We hope to work with a large bipartisan coalition of Democrat and Republican sponsors, similar to the group that championed the successful infrastructure bill.
- How is this coalition coordinating with the Freedom and Opportunity for All coalition (FOAA)?
FOAA and its constituent organizations have been invited to join EFC and to participate in the first large convening we held in Utah in December of 2021. We will continue to extend this invitation to all of the members of the FOAA and ALL coalitions.
- How will this coalition’s database be integrated with Freedom for All Americans (FFAA) or other campaigns and organizations?
There are no plans to combine databases at this time. FFAA is welcome to join our efforts and to share this work with their partners in any way they see fit. On a monthly basis the Equality and Fairness Coalition will distribute data collected via the website to each regional partner to encourage sustainability.
- Why aren’t all the other states here?
The Equality and Fairness Coalition founding team believes in organizing from the ground up. That means that our first and most important invitations were made to states and organizations that live in red and purple states where people are most impacted by a lack of federal protections for LGBTQ people. As we continue to build support and energy behind this work others are free to join and support the work. However, our focus will continue to be in target states where LGBTQ people are in most need of these protections.
- Will there be healing by religious partners before forming collaboration?
It is our hope that this coalition is an opportunity for all partners to build relationships that will result in greater understanding of one another. We believe in meeting people where they are at and in building authentic relationships that affirm the dignity of all. There is no ideological purity test required to join this coalition.
- How do we advance this given opposition of some conservative faith organizations not represented in the Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition or other coalitions?
We build power one person and one organization at a time. Relationship building with conservative faith organizations, affirming faith organizations, the business community, and community organizations is how we create a bipartisan multifaceted coalition. Additionally, the more faith groups who do step out in support of LGBTQ rights, the more it helps neutralize the impact of those who do not.
- How does this federal work consider simultaneous fights in states?
Like other federal work, this work would benefit every state that does not have full protections for LGBTQ people. That is a benefit no matter what is proposed in the states. Further, the executive committee and the organizing base for this coalition are red and purple states that are often the testing labs for the most anti-LGBTQ legislation. This will ensure that the federal work advances the needs of states.
- What is the political strategy given already-in-progress conversations with politicians?
Like others, the Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition has been in relationship and conversation with elected leaders. We believe that this framework is the most likely path to gaining the bipartisan support necessary to advance full protections for LGBTQ people and will continue to engage with politicians based on that idea.
- What can participants expect next?
Participants can expect an invitation to join the Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition.
- What are key legislative calendar dates?
The most important date is June 24th, 2022, the last day the Senate is in session during Pride Month. We need to pass legislation through both chambers of Congress by this date or we may miss our best chance for passing comprehensive federal protections in the next decade or more.
- What additional technical support is needed?
Auburn Seminary has agreed to facilitate future gatherings and that technical support meets a great need. We may encounter additional technical needs and will ask coalition members for suggestions on how to meet those needs.
- Which other groups need consultation and conversation in the next 8 weeks?
January 2022 marks the public path for the Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition coalition. We anticipate that we will have conversations with many state and national LGBTQ organizations and many religious organizations over the next 8 weeks. We will continue to extend an invitation to join the coalition to organizations who have alignment with our principles and framework.
- What does it mean to be part of this coalition?
It means that as an organization you support the core ideas we are organizing around, our principles and our framework. As a member of the coalition it is our hope that you will promote these core ideas with faith leaders, business leaders, and elected leaders in your state, as well as with the LGBTQ and allied community in your state. Once you join, you will have access to the tools necessary to support this work and will be a part of the organizing moving forward including both digital and in person meetings.
- How are we coordinating with others?
We will continue to keep the lines of communication open with other coalitions and political players, including but not limited to FOAA and ALL. We will also continue to extend the invitation for other coalitions and organizations to join the Equality and Fairness Coalition.