January 23, 2018
The far-Left has been trying to speak support for its bathroom agenda into existence since the fight first broke out on the national scene a few years ago. Unfortunately for them, the battle that launched a thousand protests hasn't turned out exactly as planned. And not for lack of trying.
As usual, liberals tried to win on gender the way they won on marriage: through coercion, not consensus. That strategy backfired in places like Houston, where people hadn't even adjusted to the idea of same-sex marriage, let alone the redefinition of gender. Impatient with the progress of the transgender agenda, Barack Obama tried to force his hand, demanding that public schools let kids use whatever bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms they wanted.
The American people revolted, prompting rallies, boycotts, and lawsuits across the 50 states. Lawmakers tried to tackle the issue. School boards followed suit. And before you knew it, the issue of privacy was dominating the political conversation. Then came Donald Trump. The fiercely outspoken Republican had no trouble calling out the ridiculousness of the bathroom agenda. To prove it, one of his first acts was rolling back Obama's mandate.
Democrats, on the other hand, still can't seem to let go of the issue -- despite its devastating impact on their 2016 candidates. "Rust Belt Dems broke for Trump because they thought Clinton cared more about bathrooms than jobs," the Washington Post headline read. Even now, a full year and change into Trump's administration, heartland Democrats are pleading with the national party to give up its transgender politics. "Heartland Democrats to Washington: 'You're Killing Us'" is the latest Politico news. "New report blames elitist national party for alienating voters, and threatening the party's chances in 2020."
"The Democratic brand," Illinois state Rep. Jerry Costello told Politico,"is hugely damaged, and it's going to take a while to bring it back. Democrats in southern Illinois have been more identified by [transgender] bathrooms than by putting people back to work."
Now, as both sides regroup under Trump, the New York Times is trying to claim victory in the privacy war. "With elections looming and major corporations watching, the social issues that have provoked bitter fights in recent years across the conservative South -- including restroom access for transgender people and so-called religious freedom measures -- are gaining little legislative momentum in statehouses this year... Democratic and Republic officials, advocacy groups, and researchers" the Times suggests, "say that other, less contentious subjects are taking center stage, while fewer new hot-button social bills are being introduced."
But that doesn't mean that conservatives are "wary, weary, or both." Could it be that with Obama's regime in the rearview mirror, states can move on from bathroom battle? President Trump took the action most Americans wanted when he overturned a mandate that was not only contrary to popular opinion but natural law. Now that states aren't under the government's attack, they aren't under the pressure to pursue other policies. And surely, conservatives in southern states didn't want to spend any more time on bathrooms than they were forced to. If anything, they just wanted to return to the status quo Donald Trump gave them. For now, the battle may well be in the corporate world, where executives are testing the limits of consumer patience with extreme gender politics. Let them. In the meantime, states are finally free to focus on other issues -- thanks to an administration now operating within the limits of the Constitution.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.