February 27, 2017
These days, courts probably grab more headlines for upholding the law than rewriting it! That was certainly the case in Arkansas, where the state supreme court gave parents and local communities a huge victory by ruling on the plain text of the law, instead of their politically-motivated interpretation of it. After a three-year tug-of-war, a controversial LGBT ordinance from the city of Fayetteville was struck down, which would not only have allowed men to use the girls' showers, restrooms, and locker rooms, but also would have criminally prosecuted business owners with moral objections. Like North Carolina, Arkansas's statutes are clear: only the state can pass "anti-discrimination" laws that create new "civil rights" (in this case on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity).
This is the same playbook that's been used in Houston, Springfield (Mo.), Jacksonville (Fla.), Utah, and others to kick down the door between government and religious liberty. Under the umbrella of these sexual orientation-gender identity (SOGI) ordinances, cities are quietly ushering in a fierce government crackdown on men and women of faith. Fortunately, Arkansas put the brakes on Fayetteville's lawlessness, explaining that there is "a direct inconsistency between state and municipal law" in the case. As such, they ruled, the measure can't stand.
For state and local leaders, decisions like this one should certainly be a wake-up call to engage. Last year, there were dozens of attempts to push for special SOGI privileges on everything from education to policing and transportation bills. Across the country, conservatives need to be vigilant about fighting this onslaught at the local level. That's especially important now that the White House is dropping school bathroom and shower policies back in the laps of legislatures. Now is not the time for state lawmakers to sit back! If anything, they need to be proactive in exercising the authority the people have given them -- or else liberal enclaves and urban areas will start dictating policy on key issues like this one.
Already, the Left is on the march in states to try to take back the power they lost. President Obama may be out of the White House, but he's doing everything he can to get his legacy in the state house. He and former Attorney General Eric Holder are teaming up to launch a new super group to stop "Trump-ism" at the grassroots level. So far, a spokeswoman warns, the "related fundraising efforts have been 'astronomical.'" Well, we may be outspent, but one thing conservatives are not is outnumbered. Help us prove that by paying attention to what's happening in your local communities. And if you live in Texas (or any of the 12 states moving privacy bills), seize the moment to stand up and be counted! A Republican majority is only as good as the people holding it accountable. So do your part and get involved.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.