The Transgender Order Deserves Its Fate

The rollback of the Obama’ administration’s nationwide decree that public school bathrooms and locker rooms must be available to students based on their gender identity has, predictably, caused an uproar among LGBT and other progressives (“a blind and cruel attack on young children,” said the Human Rights Campaign’s Chad Griffin).

But the over-reaching, over-bearing, probably unlawful order, blocked by a court from taking effect in part because it was issued without going through the standard proposal and public comment process for federal regulation—which would have highlighted its dubious interpretation of Title IX—was always about igniting the base and stoking culture-war polarization, to the hoped-for electoral advantage of the Democrats versus the hateful bigots (i.e., Republicans).

The Cato Institute’s David Boaz writes:

Devolving power from Washington to states and local communities can also help to ease conflicts ranging from gun rights and school locker rooms to environmental protection. While Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may have stated the problem awkwardly, it’s true that the people of Manhattan and Montana have different attitudes and experiences regarding guns. Maybe they should be able to set different rules. In 2016 the Department of Justice and the Department of Education issued “guidance” to the 13,500 school districts across the United States on how they should manage access to locker rooms and bathrooms in 99,000 public schools. Instead of a rule issued by faceless bureaucrats in Washington, why not let the people of the 50 states and thousands of communities talk through that issue and come to their own evolving answers?

DeVos herself released a statement that said, in part:

This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students. …

I consider protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.

As others have pointed out, while the left likes to focus on bathrooms, where people don’t publicly undress, the real issue is locker rooms, where nudity is part of the terrain. An anatomical male body on a transwomen who hasn’t surgically transitioned (or, more to the point, a transgirl in a public school girls locker room), and transmen/transboys in the opposite situation, is the issue. Offering the accommodations of a gender-neutral individual restroom, or changing in a private space (and, if necessary, a private shower) is not equivalent to the racial bigotry implied by the phrase “separate but equal.” In these circumstances, it’s often the reasonable option.

And sorry, but declaring that we should all—teenagers included—”get over” our unease with anatomically discordant nudity in public facilities (because, bigotry) is not a winning argument. As instapundit Glenn Reynolds likes to say, “If you want more Trump, this is how you get more Trump.”

Breaking Ranks

D.C.’s MetroWeekly interviews Anthony “Rek” LeCounte, a young, black, gay Republican. Excerpt:

“There’s a saying in politics that ‘personnel is policy,’” he says. “A lot of these nonpartisan [LGBT rights] groups are staffed by aggressively left-wing progressive folks who, even if their organization say, ‘We believe X, Y, and Z,’ have their own biases which then affect their decisions. If an LGBT candidate is pro-life, or supports gun rights, or holds a bunch of other conservative positions that run deeply counter to what the progressive movement is doing, a lot of these groups don’t want to be associated with those kind of candidates. So they’ll either endorse against or they’ll just pretend the candidate doesn’t exist.”

True.

Perfect Enemies, Redux

A New York Times article asks Are Liberals Helping Trump? by declaring, “Agree with us 100% or you are morally bankrupt.”

Well, yes.

Times national correspondent Sabrina Tavernise writes:

Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed. …

Mrs. O’Connell is a registered Democrat. She voted for Bill Clinton twice. But she has drifted away from the party over what she said was a move from its middle-class economic roots toward identity politics. …

“The Democratic Party has changed so much that I don’t even recognize it anymore,” she said. “These people are destroying our democracy. They are scarier to me than these Islamic terrorists. I feel absolutely disgusted with them and their antics. It strengthens people’s resolve in wanting to support President Trump. It really does.”

I believe “identity politics” should not be construed here to mean support for equal rights for minorities, as progressives would claim, but rather what they have delivered in practice, which Daphne Patai characterized as the proliferation of oppressed identities so that “the game is openly played in hiring and even in the exercise of free speech—who is entitled to teach, to speak, to pose challenges, and who had better shut up if lacking the requisite identity.”

Along similar lines, The student Left’s culture of intolerance is creating a new generation of conservatives. But I’d quibble with the author, Charlie Peters, and suggest that it’s not so much that the student left has abandoned support for free speech as that they never really favored it to begin with, at least for their ideological opponents. The 1960’s campus Free Speech Movement was about allowing leftwing organizing. Once the left became dominant in university administrations and hegemonic on faculties, there was no longer any need for the ruse.

Persecuting Baronelle Stutzman Shows Lack of Decency

Washington state’s highest court ruled that Barronelle Stutzman discriminated against longtime customers Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed when she refused to do the flowers for their 2013 wedding because of her religious opposition to participating in a same-sex marriage. Instead, Stutzman suggested several other florists in the area who would help them.

Her lawyers will attempt to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where A Colorado case involving a baker who would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding is pending.

“I knew Rob was gay for all those years, and it made no difference to me,” Ms. Stutzman said. “I chose not to participate in one event, and that’s what this is all about. If Rob walked into my shop tomorrow, I’d wait on him for another 10 years.”

Ingersoll and Freed should have respected her right to decline and found another Seattle-area florist. That would have been the decent thing to do. Decency, however, is an increasingly rare commodity.

LGBT Activists Take Aim at Religious Liberty

Rights are for me, but not for thee, says just about the entirety of LGBT activists groups.

Attacking religious liberty rights will be the singular issue of the LGBT left (which is to say, the LGBT political movement) going forward. The bogus “license to discriminate” meme will be ubiquitous.

As I’ve said before, balancing competing rights—civil rights (public accommodations nondiscrimination) and religious liberty (the right not to be forced by the state, on threat of punishment, to take action that violates religious convictions)—is what America should be about.

Religious exemptions have a traditional and purposeful place in our civil rights laws, but that’s now under attack. Shameful and sad.

More. Proving my point: Swift LGBT opposition to Gorsuch over ‘religious freedom’ rulings:

Gorsuch also sided with “religious freedom” arguments over the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide contraception coverage in the 10th Circuit ruling in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell.

Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, declared opposition to the nominee based on Gorsuch’s “religious freedom” rulings, which she said marks the first time her organization opposed a Supreme Court nominee without any confirmation hearing.

Lambda Legal is going to show those nuns who’s boss.

The Gorsuch Nomination

Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, probably would not have joined the ruling in favor of marriage equality, although he is a former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the Obergefell decision.

In 2005, LGBTQ Nation reports, Gorsuch wrote an article for National Review in which he argued that liberals are using the courts too much to advance their agenda, and he cited same-sex marriage:

American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education… .

…too much reliance on constitutional litigation is also bad for the Left itself. The Left’s alliance with trial lawyers and its dependence on constitutional litigation to achieve its social goals risks political atrophy. Liberals may win a victory on gay marriage when preaching to the choir before like-minded judges in Massachusetts. But in failing to reach out and persuade the public generally, they invite exactly the sort of backlash we saw in November when gay marriage was rejected in all eleven states where it was on the ballot.

Marriage equality was eventually achieve through the courts, and—unlike the abortion-ruling aftermath—without an escalation of the initial backlash the Gorsuch noted. But his arguments aren’t those of the fire-breathing LGBT-rights opponent of progressive fear-mongering.

Gorsuch does support religious liberty rights, which will drive the LGBT left berserk. He ruled against the government in a case involving the Obamacare mandate that employer health plans provide no-cost contraceptive coverage to female workers, including drugs some consider to be abortifacients. As LGBTQ Nation notes:

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the corporation argued that its religious beliefs were being violated by the ACA. Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby, holding that a for-profit business could have religious beliefs, with which the Supreme Court later agreed.

I agreed, too.

Gorsuch is a conservative, but he’s not a social conservative activist. I don’t expect that liberal media will pay much attention to the distinction.

More. An email just received from Zeke Stokes at GLAAD:

Gorsuch’s record on the federal bench means his appointment to the court could put LGBTQ people at risk, from workplace protections to even marriage equality. Coming on the heels of rumors of a sweeping Trump executive order attacking the LGBTQ community, this appointment could spell danger for LGBTQ people, women, people of color, immigrants, and other marginalized communities — many of whom are already targets of Trump’s actions.

A follow-up from GLAAD explains:

We just got some devastating news. According to breaking media reports, a leaked copy of a draft executive order reveals plans by the Trump Administration to allow for widespread discrimination against LGBTQ people across the country– much like the law Vice President Mike Pence signed as governor of Indiana.

Attacking religious liberty rights will be the singular issue of the LGBT left (which is to say, the LGBT political movement) going forward.

LGBT Nondiscrimination Executive Order Remains in Place

White House says LGBT protections for federal workers will remain.

Score one for the Log Cabin Republicans. Guess the fear-mongers were wrong.

I fully support LGBT nondiscrimination policies within the federal workforce. But when extended to federal contractors, I’d favor a reasonable religious exemption so that, for instance, Catholic charities could choose not to participate in adoptions by same-sex couples.

But any change to Obama’s order by Trump would have been demagogued mercilessly as a “license to discriminate.”

The Human Rights Campaign never misses an opportunity to remain irrelevant. Via The Advocate, HRC’s head Chad Griffin tweeted: “Claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar.”

More. Walter Olson at the Cato Institute addresses this issue: An Executive Order On LGBT Issues? Religious Exemptions? Both? He clarifies that while the White House said the president would keep in place Obama’s LGBT order applying to the federal workforce:

The White House did not rule out revisiting other decisions by its predecessor administration on gay rights, such as an order requiring federal contractors to adopt nondiscrimination policies, which pointedly did not provide conscience exemptions for private religious agencies.

Let the outrage begin!

Olson continues:

The effect of a contractor ban without religious objector provisions, I argued, would be to kick various religious agencies out of social service work in public settings in adoptions and foster care, as well as some prison, drug rehab, and various other settings. Ousting conservative religious groups from participation in social service adoption is likely to cut down on the number of successful placements made of children in public care, which would hurt the taxpayer, hurt adoptive parents, and, not least, hurt kids. The more genuinely pluralist approach, I argued, would be to acknowledge conscience exemptions while fully opening these systems to participation by contractors that gladly serve gays, persons of no given sect, religious unbelievers, and so forth.

Sounds good to me.

Furthermore. To clarify, it’s specifically the 2014 executive order that applies to employees of federal contractors that the White House said would continue in place.

“President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” the [White House] statement says. “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”

The New York Times relates:

Leaving those protections, of course, does not preclude another executive order that would roll back gay rights in other areas. Mr. Trump could, for example, still enshrine a religious freedom provision in federal policy.

I hope so, as balancing competing rights—civil rights (public accommodations nondiscrimination) and religious liberty (the right not to be forced by the state, on threat of punishment, to take action that violates religious convictions)—is what America is about.

LCR Up, HRC Down

It’s Log Cabin’s time, with the much bigger and dominant LGBT movement organizations (Human Rights Campaign, Victory Fund) having ensured they’ll be frozen out by the Trump administration.

Via the Washington Blade, Log Cabin emerges as lead LGBT group in Trump era:

In another sign of how the political landscape has changed in Washington, the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans appears to have emerged as the lead LGBT organization expected to have access to the administration of President Donald Trump.

With most of the longstanding national LGBT advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, strongly supporting or tilting toward Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the November election, many political observers expect them to have little if any access to the Trump White House and federal agencies that oversee LGBT-related issues.

HRC has joined with others on the left in declaring its implacable hostility toward the Trump administration, and did so before Trump had been sworn in. So it’s good to see Log Cabin going its own way.

I think this is smart, too:

In a break with nearly all other LGBT advocacy groups, Angelo said Log Cabin doesn’t support the Equality Act, the latest version of a federal LGBT non-discrimination bill pending in Congress. He said the group would soon push for a different version of an LGBT non-discrimination bill that would likely gain more support among GOP lawmakers in Congress.

The overly broad Equality Act is an assault on religious liberty rights, rolling back protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Democrats once supported.

[Added: The Equality Act revokes any protection which religious objectors might enjoy under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I wrote about this last November, here, noting that “staunch opposition to religious exemptions and requiring that the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act (signed by Bill Clinton) be excluded from applying to any such [LGBT anti-discrimination] measure—as the Human Rights Campaign and others are demanding—is not a strategy that seeks to accomplish anything except to maintain the political standoff so useful in fundraising appeals. A win-win compromise—LGBT legal protections with reasonable and traditional exemptions for religious belief, especially among small, independent service providers—would be in the best interest of everyone except for activists whose power and prestige is based on perpetuating the culture wars.” Jonathan Rauch has also addressed this, as noted here.]

The great irony of all this is that Trump would, quite possible, be amenable to signing a common sense LGBT workplace anti-discrimination bill, but HRC and the LGBT left will work tirelessly to ensure that such an outcome never happens.

More. Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes:

For scorched-earth Never Trumpers…the response to this complex challenge is simple: Resist everything. For everyone else, from Doubtful Trumpers to Hopeful Trumpers, more productive ways of engaging with this presidency are opening up.

The media’s mostly Manichaean political model—bad forces arrayed against forces for good—is largely useless. The more productive if difficult path forward will require willing participants to pull out pieces of the Trump agenda and support them, refine them or, when necessary, resist. Full engagement with the Trump presidency doesn’t mean simple assent or rote opposition. …

For those who want to spend four years quaking before Mr. Trump’s kaleidoscopic tweets, the future is predictable. For everyone else, the more familiar struggles of American governance have just begun.

Log Cabin seems to get this; the LGBT Democrats, not so much. From the Washington Blade article:

The HRC message said the group had created a new “defy” logo and encouraged supporters to “resist” action by Trump that would harm LGBT people or roll back LGBT supportive policies put in place by President Barack Obama.. …

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund…[which] also lobbies for presidential appointments of LGBT people, issued a strongly worded statement on the day following the election leaving no doubt about its opposition to Trump. “Today I am heartbroken that racist, xenophobic, sexist and transphobic demagoguery won last night’s presidential election,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, the Victory Fund’s president and CEO.

Sure, those are voices that are going to be welcome in administration deliberations.

Furthermore. No one expects the Republican leadership to favor an LGBT anti-discrimination bill. But if the Democrats introduced a common-sense measure with religious exemptions and got behind it, enough Republicans are likely to join them to get to a majority, and I believe Trump might very well sign it. But that’s the last thing the Democrats, and their LGBT auxiliaries, would want to happen.

Final thought. According to their 2015 form 990 filings for tax year 2014 (the last ones you can view for free through online search), total annual revenue was:
LCR: $      289,950.
HRC: $37,406,706.

Can a Catholic Hospital Refuse a Gender-Transition Surgery?

As the new year began, LGBT groups denounced a decision by a federal judge in Texas that blocked, nationwide, federal regulations issued under the Affordable Care Act that barred discrimination against transgendered patients.

As the Washington Times reported, “U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor is the same judge who, four months earlier, blocked President Obama’s order compelling public schools nationwide to permit bathroom and locker room access on the basis of gender identity.”

The lawsuit against the transgender anti-discrimination rule was brought by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Franciscan Alliance.

“Judge O’Connor’s decision to prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing crucial protections for transgender people seeking healthcare services puts thousands of people at risk of marginalization, harassment, and discrimination at a time they are most vulnerable and in need of inclusive, respectful care,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

Writing in the blog Health Affairs, Timothy Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va., said, “Nothing in the [Affordable Care Act’s] section 1557 rule specifically requires practitioners or health care facilities to provide gender transition services. … The rule does not impose on health care professionals an obligation to provide gender transition services…. It is troubling that this litigation has been promoted based on false statements about the requirements of section 1557, which Judge O’Connor has to a certain extent uncritically accepted.”

But just a few days later, the Washington Post reported that Jionni Conforti, a 33-year-old transgender man, is suing a Catholic hospital for not accommodating his transition-related hysterectomy. The suit referenced both the (now blocked) Affordable Care Act rule and New Jersey’s anti-discrimination statute.

Lambda Legal, which is representing Conforti, said the hospital was not entitled to “decide who their patients are.”

But suing a Catholic hospital for not accommodating a gender-realignment surgery raises many issues about the failure to recognize the difference between a private/religious and public/government facility. If a Catholic hospital has no right not to host a gender transition-related surgery, can a patient demand it also allow elective abortions to be performed?

Campus Social Justice Warriors Strike Again

The Washington Post reports that a coalition of 25 student organizations at the University of Maryland, a public university, has presented a list of 64 demands to the administration.

According to the report:

The petitioners listed the communities of students that participated in the initiative this way: “Marginalized, American Indian, Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Muslim, Pro-Palestine, Undocumented.” No Jewish group at the university signed the list of demands, which include a call for “the active encouragement of faculty and students to engage in discourse and learning about the Palestinians’ struggles and the Boycott Divest and Sanction movement without fear of consequences by the university administration.”

The student’s demands, endorsed by The Pride Alliance at U-Md., include the following:

For the LGBTQIA+ Student Community:
*Converting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies program into a department in order to provide curricular autonomy.
*Gender neutral bathrooms in all buildings on campus.
*Multi-stall gender-inclusive bathrooms in every building with multi-stall bathrooms.
*Students be allowed the choice of different gender roommates in the residence halls through random matching.
*Including pronouns in addition to names on student rosters seen by faculty and advisors.
*Implementing a campus wide policy to replace male-female checkboxes with write-in boxes on all forms, surveys, and applications.
*The administration advocate for and defend the Arts and Humanities, as they are one of the departments most sensitive to LGBTQ issues and also one of the most at risk under new state and federal leadership.

For the Muslim Student Community:
*One room in each major building (e.g. SPH, Chemistry, McKeldin etc.) designated for prayer.
*Shuttle services to the Diyanet Center of America for Muslim students to have access to a place of worship and participate in the many activities that the center hosts.
*More classes offered pertaining to Islam and the Muslim world taught by Muslim professors, who will counteract the negativity surrounding the name of Islam that is perpetuated by our culture and media.
*[Responding to the showing of “American Sniper” on campus] Organizations on campus should have better judgement when choosing to show movies that perpetuate false narratives and stereotypes of Muslim and should be held accountable if they do not take this into consideration.

For the Pro-Palestine Student Communities:
*The active encouragement of faculty and students to engage in discourse and learning about the Palestinians’ struggles and the Boycott Divest and Sanction movement without fear of consequences by the university administration.
*The encouragement of equal and positive representation of Pro-Palestinian human rights activists on campus. Specifically, condemning the conflation of Pro-Palestinian activism with racism and Anti-Semitism.

For the Undocumented Student Community:
*A full-time undocumented-student coordinator to advocate for, advise, represent and protect undocumented and “DACAmented students.” (DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields some undocumented immigrants from deportation.)
*A full-time immigration attorney for the Offices of Undergraduate and Graduate Student Legal Aid.
*A declaration of the University of Maryland, College Park as a sanctuary campus for undocumented and DACAmented students and their families.
*A significant expansion of mental health services for all students of color, especially undocumented and DACAmented students.

And on and on. The university issued a statement saying “We commend the students for their passionate advocacy and for coming together in solidarity on these issues.”

The LGBT rights movement has for some time been subsumed as part of the grand coalition of the political left, but what today’s campus activism makes clear is how the simple, clearly focused fight for gay legal equality has been left far behind in this brave new world of identity politics and political correctness on steroids.

More. I should clarify that the Pride Alliance endorsed the entire list, so even though the LGBT demands are far from the most egregious, it’s a package deal. The campus Jewish groups, given the thinly veiled let no one call it anti-Semiticism of the pro-Palestinian groups, refused to participate.