The “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act” (known as the FAIR Act) may not sound like a bill that Family Research Council would have much interest in, but few bills in Congress these days can be taken at face value. As with multiple other bills that the Left has put forward over the last few years, the FAIR Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed almost along party lines on Thursday, includes language elevating “sexual orientation and gender identity” to “protected class status.”
Progressive proponents of the FAIR Act claim that it “prohibit[s] corporations from forcing working people and consumers into pre-dispute forced arbitration agreements and class action waivers.” But the reality is that the bill defines the term “civil rights dispute” as a dispute arising from an alleged violation of any federal, state, or local law that prohibits discrimination and takes the unnecessarily limiting step of saying that not all such laws apply. The bill elevates the laws that prohibit only certain types of discrimination, including alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
As we have written about extensively, the Left erroneously equates sexual orientation and gender identity with immutable characteristics such as race, age, and national origin. It then elevates SOGI as a matter of “civil rights.” In the context of arbitration, as in the FAIR Act, elevating SOGI categories to protected classes status could have a detrimental effect on faith-based organizations that use arbitration clauses.
We have seen the repeated litigious attacks on Jack Phillips and other wedding vendors, Catholic Charities and faith-based adoption and foster care providers, and others. Just last year, florist Barronelle Stutzman was forced to close her business and settle a lawsuit after an eight-year court battle over being compelled to create flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding against her conscience.
Legislation like the FAIR Act unjustly picks winners and losers among discrimination allegations by unfairly, and dangerously, elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to protected class status. Going forward, FRC will urge the Senate to reject the FAIR Act and will continue to educate lawmakers and the public about how proposed SOGI laws violate religious freedom.