Military Vets of another War: on Gender

Military Vets of another War: on Gender

July 10, 2018

While the two parties get ready to rumble over Justice Anthony Kennedy's replacement, there'll be no argument over one thing: just how important the courts have become. Republicans and Democrats may be animated over President Trump's SCOTUS pick, Brett Kavanaugh, but it's because they all agree -- the courts' decisions are affecting every facet of American life. And the latest debate at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is living proof.

With the exception of Barack Obama and his administration, there aren't a whole lot of Americans clamoring to spend their taxpayer dollars gender reassignment surgeries. The 44th president did his best to force the issue, insisting the VA, HHS, and Defense Department make these procedures the newest (and most controversial) obligation of unwilling Americans. Then, to our great relief, voters elected Donald Trump -- many, based on his pledge that he would do away with the radical social experimentation of his predecessor.

Fortunately, they didn't have to wait long. The new commander-in-chief rolled back the transgender policy in the military and did his best to put the brakes on the fierce debate over taxpayer-funded sex changes. Everything was going according to plan -- until the courts got involved. At least two military veterans decided to sue the Trump administration into an all-expenses-paid gender transition (which, if you ask medical professionals, hasn't proven effective in treating serious mental health conditions like this one). Now, thanks to the courts, the VA is under significant pressure to reconsider its position on covering gender reassignment surgeries for vets.

Last Friday, the VA put out its first official "feelers" on the issue with a request for public comment. And while liberals insist that the department is just "going through the motions," there's no telling what the activist courts (which have become quite fond of stripping this president of his constitutional authority) will demand next. The VA did point out that the Defense Department memo on the president's transgender policy "noted considerable scientific uncertainty and overall lack of high quality scientific evidence demonstrating the extent to which transition-related treatments, such as sex reassignment surgery remedy the multifaceted mental health problems associated with gender dysphoria."

That's certainly in keeping with the latest research from Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, both of which wrote in JAMA that despite what the sexual extremists might say, there's absolutely no conclusive evidence that procedures like gender reassignment are actually helping people. (Obama's CDC admitted as much in 2016.) In fact, part of the VA's hesitation is spelled out in its public comment page. One of the questions they ask is: "Given the challenge of the high rates of Veteran suicide, what does the evidence, including peer-reviewed evidence, suggest about the impact of gender alterations on the rates of suicide and suicide ideation among those suffering from gender dysphoria?"

FRC's Peter Sprigg knows the answer to that one. In several of his papers, he cites a very important 2011 Swedish study, which showed that even AFTER having gender reassignment surgery, people who identify as transgender had a suicide rate 19 times higher than the general population. That completely undermines Obama's suggestion that giving people who identify as transgender everything they ask for will do anything to reduce their suicide rate. On the contrary, extreme policies like this one come at the expense of the population they claim to help!

Then, of course, there's the sky-high price tag (which the other side denies). "It's just a ridiculous argument that this is going to be some costly issue that they have to cover," said Sasha Buchert, the attorney representing the veterans. But, as Peter has pointed out, it's not as ridiculous as Sasha thinks! Male-to-female surgery would cost a whopping $110,450 per person, and female-to-male up to $89,050. And that doesn't include the rounds of pre- and post-hormone therapy!

When America's heroes can't even get the routine care they need, surely we can think of a better investment than this one -- a radical procedure that too many patients live to regret. To voice your concerns, visit the VA website and click the blue "Comment Now!" button on the upper right.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

About That Kavanaugh Nomination...

July 10, 2018

By now, Americans have all learned a thing or two about Brett Kavanaugh, the man who will almost certainly replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. They know he's a dad, that he coaches his girls' Catholic basketball team and serves food to the homeless. They've heard about his 12 years of circuit court experience, his longtime reputation as an originalist, and that he clerked for the man he's replacing. But what may be the most persuasive thing about Judge Kavanaugh is the confidence conservatives have in the president who nominated him.

For the second time in as many tries, President Trump followed through on his promise to select a nominee from the Supreme Court list he made public during the campaign. He assured Americans who cared about the issue that he'd select an originalist -- someone who would call balls and strikes according to the Constitution. And, based on the more than 40 federal, circuit, and Supreme Court nominees we've seen confirmed, that's exactly what America will get.

Like a lot of conservatives, we had our favorites from that list. But everyone it included was solid, thanks to a group of serious constitutionalists who reviewed the candidates beforehand. As President Trump said at his primetime reveal, "What matters is not a judge's political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require." Brett Kavanaugh did his best to reassure the country that he was such a person, saying, "My judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law."

Anyone who doubts Kavanaugh's bona fides should keep in mind: this president has an exceptional track record on the judiciary. We've watched this White House restore balance and boundaries to benches across the country at a pace no other president has matched. And unlike his predecessor, those record-setting confirmations continue to be of men and women whose loyalty is to the plain text of the Constitution. Our hope and prayer is that Brett Kavanaugh proves himself to be of their same mold. For the time being, we have to trust President Trump's judgment -- a benefit of the doubt that, based on his previous nominees, he's earned.

Of course, Democrats (the same ones who helped confirm Kavanaugh the first time) are in no mood to be persuaded. Before they even knew who the nominee was, liberals despised what he represented: a return to the judicial restraint the courts so desperately need. The Washington Examiner's Phillip Wegmann joked about the Left's pre-fab opposition yesterday, pointing out that it won't matter who the president nominates at the press conference. "[E]very Democrat will curse the news because they hate the nominee already -- whoever it is."

Case in point, the zealots at the Women's March issued a press release last night slamming Trump's pick -- whose name they forgot to add! Instead, the statement went out with "XX" where the word "Kavanaugh" should have been, proving that they would have repeated the same garbage no matter who was nominated. The liberal group Democracy for America sent out another embarrassing statement with fill-in-the-blank opposition, assuring people that "DFA will fight Kavanaugh," because "she represents a generational assault on justice, freedom, core democratic values."

At least Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) got Kavanaugh's name right when he promised to fight him "with everything I have." Then, with the usual double standard, he demanded that Brett answer questions on abortion that he himself once said you shouldn't ask. "There is a grand tradition that I support that you can't ask a judge who's nominated for a -- or a potential judge who is nominated -- for a judgeship about a specific case that might come before them." Apparently, that "grand tradition" has fallen by the wayside now that President Trump is doing the nominating.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was busily trying to raise money off the Kavanaugh announcement, vowing to "avenge President Obama" on SCOTUS "if it's the last thing I do." (Maybe someone ought to tell Nancy that avenging Obama will be difficult since the House doesn't vote on the nominee.) Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe continued the barrage, tweeting, "The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come and will morph our Supreme Court into a political arm of the right-wing Republican Party."

Over at the Supreme Court steps, the protests became so violent that Fox News's Shannon Bream (who I joined later that night to talk about the pick), had to pack up and head to the studio. "Very few times I've felt threatened while out in the field," she posted. "The mood here tonight is very volatile. Law enforcement appears to be closing down 1st Street in front of SCOTUS. Literally had to bail on our live show from #SCOTUS. Moving the show back to the safety of the studio. See y'all at 11pm."

If the Left's hysteria is any indication, Brett Kavanaugh will do his part to fulfill this president's vision of reining in the judiciary and restoring constitutional order. We look forward to working with the Senate and the grassroots for his confirmation. For more on the debate, don't miss my interview last night on Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Good Morning, Vietnam Advocacy Day!

July 10, 2018

Earlier today, I took off my FRC hat and put on my U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom hat for my first official event. Today was the annual gathering of Vietnamese Boat People on Capitol Hill where they advocate for religious freedom and human rights issues in Vietnam. I could not think of a better group to speak with in my inaugural USCIRF presentation.

This morning, I shared with them that I have a sincere appreciation for those who've come to the United States from Vietnam, like my friend Pastor Khanh Huyhn, especially since they are teaching those born in America the value and importance of religious freedom. Pastor Huyhn was one of the Houston Five pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by the former mayor of Houston Annise Parker. Warning other pastors of where such government overreach could lead, Pastor Huyhn has joined me in a number of efforts including promoting the Free Speech Fairness Act, which would repeal the Johnson Amendment.

The government of Vietnam, along with non-state actors have been engaged in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom. They have imprisoned, intimidated and interfered in the religious practices of Christians, Buddhists, Caodaists, and others. These actions not only violate our sensibilities as Americans, they violate the very international covenants on human rights and religious freedom that Vietnam is a signatory to. Based on the facts, USCIRF is recommending the U.S. State Department should identify Vietnam as a "Country of Particular Concern" (CPC). A CPC designation will put into place several diplomatic and economic provisions designed to pressure Vietnam to correct its abusive religious freedom practices.

Religious freedom is the foundation for all other freedoms -- without it no other freedom will stand. For that reason, you and I must do all that we can to promote religious both here and abroad.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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