February 10, 2017
Donald Trump's election may have been the most important win of November 7 -- but it wasn't the only one. The White House was only part of the success story written by voters three months ago -- and weeks after the states have gaveled in new sessions, Americans are starting to see why. While all eyes have been on Washington, 50 other capital cities are already off the starting blocks and lapping the liberal agenda. What most people have probably forgotten in the long media shadow of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is that last fall, voters also handed the keys to Republicans in a whopping 32 states. That means that the legislatures are completely controlled by Republicans many of them conservatives -- 25 of which also have a GOP governor. If that isn't the stuff of change, I don't know what is.
Elections have consequences, they say. And those consequences are already underway for the debate on privacy and religious liberty. The media is starting to sniff out the changes on the local level, especially when it comes to the tug-of-war over special rights for transgenders. In a new piece from The Hill, reporters point out that in this young legislative session, states have introduced a whopping 70 bills -- not just to stop the runaway gender-free bathroom and shower train, but also to give people the right to hold views against them in the first place. Of course, Texas's Privacy Act is ground zero in the fight over women and children's safety, but the pushback is exploding in other states too, including: Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Washington.
Like most people, FRC's Director of State and Local Affairs, Quena Gonzalez, thinks the Left has overplayed their hand on the debate. After President Obama threw open the public school shower stalls to anyone and everyone, angry parents rose up to protest from coast to coast. Now their indignation is spilling over to politics, where more state leaders are being pressured to do something about what even Democrats see as a real threat to students' safety. This is, as Quena called it, a serious "repudiation of the radical attempt of the Left to redefine marriage and sex and ram it down everyone's throats."
And in most cases, this has a profound effect on religious liberty. "There's a groundswell of opposition to having folks sued and railroaded and being forced to toe an ideological line. People should have a right of conscience whether or not they agree with the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage." In a growing number of other states -- Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, and Illinois -- are tackling that issue too. On both topics, Americans are tired of being punished for their beliefs. This is their way of saying "enough!" By the tens of thousands, they're calling on elected officials closest to them to take action.
None of this should come as a surprise to the Left. Last year's polling made it quite clear how significant these issues would turn out to be. And not just with the usual Christian crowd. Let's not forget the Washington Post headline, "Rust Belt Dems Broke for Trump Because They Thought Clinton Cared More about Bathrooms Than Jobs." As one local chairman complained, "Look, I'm as progressive as anybody, okay? But people in the heartland thought the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job." That all helped drive Trump voters to the polls, 59 percent of whom cast ballots for the Republican based on the GOP's platform on religious freedom.
If something was driving Hillary Clinton's transgender agenda, it wasn't public opinion! National and state battleground surveys showed strong opposition to Obama's school edict. A WPA research survey FRC commissioned found two-thirds of American adults opposed his bathroom and shower mandate -- including nearly half of Democratic voters. Even the left-leaning Quinnipiac University poll reported only 36 percent of Ohio voters supported it. What about North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory's defeat, the Left counters? While LGBT activists managed to take out one leader who stood up to the Obama administration's bathroom policy, that wasn't the only factor in the North Carolina race. How else do you explain that Lt. Governor Dan Forest (R), who was just as out front on H.B. 2 actually increased his support base -- outpolling Trump and helping Republicans pick up the seats they needed in the Senate to give them a veto-proof majority?
Also, consider what happens when the public has a voice! In Houston, Texas, one of the few Democratic strongholds in the state, voters overwhelmingly rejected the city council's gender-confused bathroom policy, crushing the ordinance by a 61-39 percent margin. Obviously, the states understand what liberals do not: privacy and religious liberty issues aren't just important issues -- they're winning ones!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.