Decentralized government will ultimately do more to help the rights of LGBT persons, according to Richard Wagner

For LGBT persons, President Trump is a mixed bag. If a Republican were going to be President, Trump is the best they could have hoped for.  But he is, none the less, leader of the modern day Republican Party.  

Trump has made an effort with his words to make the Republican Party more LGBT friendly, certainly enough to earn the support of Caitlin Jenner, a transgender Republican, during the primaries.  However, Jenner was upset when Trump reversed an Obama Executive Order which required all public schools in the US to allow any student to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.  This order was sweeping, and did not set any criteria for determining if someone really is transgendered, other than how they “identify”.  

In an oped, I expressed  my support from transgendered persons, while simultaneously rejecting Obama’s executive overreach.  President Trump agreed, and overturned Obama’s EO, much to the dismay of Caitlin Jenner.  Jenner didn’t give up on Trump, however, though she expressed how upset she was, and reminded Trump – “You promised to protect the LGBTQ community.”  

Obama overstepped his bounds, and recent events show that LGBT persons can achieve their goals at the state and local level.

Bathroom Bill will be repealed

In my oped, I denounced both North Carolina and Obama for the same reasons.  They may appear to be on opposite sides of this issue, but they are more alike than you think. Both the state of North Carolina, and then President Obama thought that they could take a complicated issue like transgenderism, something we are still learning about, something we still can’t be sure about, and pass one sweeping rule to be arbitrarily imposed on everyone.  

Fortunately, we are now seeing that it was never Trump’s intention to hurt the LGBT community by overturning Obama’s executive overreach.  We don’t know for sure if North Carolina made some sort of private agreement with Trump, but shortly after Trump overturned Obama’s EO, North Carolina decided to follow his example and also remove themselves from this issue.  Neither the federal government nor the state will dictate bathroom use in North Carolina starting in 2020.  It will now be up to local county school boards, who are much closer to the communities and the children whom they serve.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t start until 2020.  The new Governor, Roy Cooper, would like a full and immediate repeal of the “bathroom bill”.  But he has had to compromise with a Republican-controlled legislature.  That Republicans have even compromised on this in a red state, with a Republican in the White House, is indicative of progress.  Many are lamenting the compromise, some of claiming that Gov. Cooper has “sold out” trans-persons.  

However, 2020 is 3 years away, and as momentum on this issue continues to move more favorably towards the rights of trans persons, this bill is unlikely to be repealed.  It’s not perfect, but it is a victory for transgender rights.  It is not, however, a victory for the establishment center-left, who sees this as another issue they can exploit to push their agenda of centralized government.

The ACLU attempts to sell out transgender rights to settle political scores

Even though this new law is a decisive improvement for trans persons in North Carolina, with no drawback, the ACLU tried to convince Governor Cooper to veto.  The three-year delay is not a drawback, because without this new law, the next three years would be the same anyway.  The ban would remain in place, with less hope of repeal.  Governor Cooper, however, saw the wisdom in passing an imperfect bill that is an improvement on the present.  The ACLU’s efforts to thwart the natural process of states and communities coming around to LGBT rights in their own way has failed.  To the dismay of the ACLU, North Carolina’s transgendered population will win their rights without a Supreme Court ruling, executive overreach by the President, or a sweeping law from Congress.

The ban would remain in place, with less hope of repeal.  Governor Cooper, however, saw the wisdom in passing an imperfect bill that is an improvement on the present.  The ACLU’s efforts to thwart the natural process of states and communities coming around to LGBT rights in their own way has failed.  To the dismay of the ACLU, North Carolina’s transgendered population will win their rights without a Supreme Court ruling, executive overreach by the President, or a sweeping law from Congress.

LGBT Persons need not fear decentralized government  

Since the 1960s, the mainstream center-left in this country has pushed the narrative that centralized government is the friend of oppressed minorities, while decentralization is the excuse of the bigoted.  They’ll point to Jim Crow era examples of states resisting racial desegregation on the basis of “states’ rights”.  However, the government that can give you everything can also take it away.  Forgive me if I make a Hitler Fallacy, but the Nazi regime was one of the most centralized systems in the world and….enough said.

Consider also the fight for marriage equality.  When same-sex marriage was still opposed by the majority, then President George W. Bush attempted to push a constitutional amendment through Congress defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.  This would have overturned a state’s right to license same-sex marriages.  Before Bush, then President Clinton passed the “Defense of Marriage Act”, which denied any federal benefits to same-sex married couples regardless of the laws in their states.  

Like Bush, President Obama also supported centralization, rather than allowing local governments to try different solutions to a complicated issue.  It’s very difficult for a young person discovering that they are transgendered.  Aside from the risk of bullying and coming out to parents and other family and friends, it’s hard to be sure.  I don’t doubt, as I’ve said before, that transgenderism is a real thing.  But, case by case, it’s hard to know when it’s the real thing.  That being the case, as we cannot prove on a case by case basis whether or not someone is transgendered, we should avoid any kind of sweeping policies, no matter how well intended, and allow different communities to try different policies.  Overtime, we will see what works.  

But for now, I’d like to assure those in the LGBT community by also reminding you of Caitlin Jenner’s words  – “You’re winning!  Very soon we will win full freedom nationwide and it’s going to be with bipartisan support.”

But didn’t we get marriage equality with a centralized government?

By the time marriage equality made its way to the US Supreme Court, 36 out of 50 states had already legalized same-sex marriage in some form.  The other 14 wouldn’t have been far behind.  Had every state, in its own way using its own methods, legalized same-sex marriage, there’d be no question as to its legitimacy.  Unfortunately, the US Supreme Court took that away from the LGBT movement, by jumping in front of the inevitable and taking credit for it by widely interpreting the 14th amendment in yet another mockery of the process of judicial review.  This only entrenched the remaining opposition to same-sex marriage.  If President Trump were to appoint enough Supreme Court judges to overturn that ruling, it would be a victory for same-sex marriage (ironic, I know).  But it really would!  Would even one state today ban same-sex marriage?  Maybe.  Maybe one or two.  Those one or two would receive the ridicule of the other 48.  That’s assuming that one or two even follow through with it.

But as we’ve seen with North Carolina, right is on your side.  You are winning.  You do not need centralized government to achieve your goals, nor do you need to punish the grandma at the flower shop who feels so strongly about her opposition to same-sex marriage, that she politely recommended one of the other florists in town instead.  She does not hate you.  She’s misguided.  She’s set in her ways. Hurting her with fines or other punishments ads no legitimacy to the cause.

Remember,  the LGBT movement is about love.  It’s not about revenge, it’s not about centralized government, and it’s not about arbitrary displays of political power.  Win your cause legitimately, and you’ll win the hearts of the rest of the country.  Don’t become the very thing you hate.

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Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

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