The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has hired APCO Worldwide, a global public affairs and strategic communications consultancy, to advocate on behalf of the “Fairness for All Act” introduced by Utah Republican Congressman Chris Stewart.
Stewart views the bill as a measure to harmonize religious freedom and LGBTQ rights.
If passed, it would amend the Civil Rights Act to protect religious freedom in the workplace and the rights of LGBT people while preserving First Amendment rights, according to Stewart.
The Mormon Church supports the Act because it endorses a “balanced approach that promotes greater fairness for all” by supporting religious freedom and protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
The ACLU takes a different point of view.
“The bill facilitates the Trump’s administration’s ongoing efforts to give a green light to those who would turn LGBTQ people away from jobs, healthcare, housing, even taxpayer-funded programs, simply because of who they are,” Ian Thompson of the ACLU’s DC office, said in a statement.
By singling out LGBTQ people for lesser protection under the Civil Rights Act, it signals they are less worthy of protection, according to Thompson. “It does this by providing religious organizations and services providers with the ability to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity where they are explicitly prohibited under current federal law from discriminating based on other protected characteristics,” he said
APCO has former Congressmen Don Bonker (D-WA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) working the bill.
The church used APCO in 2008 to distance itself from the FLDS polygamous group during the 2008 raid on the FLDS’ Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas.