Trump win re­sets de­bate on abor­tion, LGBT rights

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By David Crary and Rachel Zoll AP Na­tional Writ­ers

NEW YORK >> For the com­bat­ants in Amer­ica’s lon­grun­ning cul­ture wars, the tri­umph of Don­ald Trump and con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans was stun­ning — spark­ing ela­tion on one side, deep dis­may on the other.

Ad­vo­cates of LGBT rights and abor­tion rights now fear set­backs in­stead of fur­ther gains. But the out­come em­bold­ened the an­tiabor­tion move­ment and breathed new life into the reli­gious right’s cam­paign for broad ex­emp­tions from same-sex mar­riage and other laws.

Kelly Shack­elford, head of First Liberty In­sti­tute, a le­gal group that spe­cial­izes in reli­gious free­dom cases, said that, for his cause, the en­vi­ron­ment will trans­form from “bru­tal” un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to friendly given GOP con­trol of both Congress and the White House. His clients in­clude two Chris­tian bak­ers in Ore­gon who were fined for re­fus­ing to bake a cake for a same-sex wed­ding.

“Many of us who fight for reli­gious free­dom have felt in the last four or even eight years there was a lot of over­reach­ing that was wrong,” said Shack­elford, who was among hun­dreds of reli­gious con­ser­va­tives who met with Trump last June. “To have some­one who is pres­i­dent-elect, who says I’m go­ing to put an end to this ... we’re go­ing to go back to a coun­try built on reli­gious free­dom. That makes us very hope­ful.”

Among the elec­tion’s reper­cus­sions will be a re­newed cam­paign, in state leg­is­la­tures and in Congress, to pass tough an­tiabor­tion leg­is­la­tion. Reli­gious con­ser­va­tives will press for far-reach­ing con­science pro­tec­tions and a re­peal of reg­u­la­tions they said vi­o­lated their reli­gious liberty. And the push to let trans­gen­der stu­dents use the bath­room of their choice at school, strongly backed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, may wither in the face of GOP re­sis­tance.

“There’s no ques­tion a lot of trans­gen­der stu­dents and their par­ents woke up Wed­nes­day morn­ing re­ally scared,” said Sarah McBride, a 26-year-old trans­gen­der ac­tivist who is na­tional press sec­re­tary for the LGBT-rights group the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign. “I’m feel­ing the way a lot of folks are feel­ing — wor­ried that the heart of this coun­try isn’t big enough to love us, too.”

McBride in July be­came the first openly trans­gen­der per­son to ad­dress a na­tional po­lit­i­cal con­ven­tion when she spoke to the Democrats’ gath­er­ing in Philadel­phia.

Com­pa­ra­ble wor­ries sur­faced among abor­tion­rights sup­port­ers.

“My col­leagues across the coun­try are deeply dis­heart­ened,” said Dr. Wil­lie Parker, an Alabama-based physi­cian who pro­vides abor­tions in three South­ern states. He pre­dicts intensified ef­forts to lay the ground­work for a chal­lenge of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court de­ci­sion es­tab­lish­ing a na­tion­wide right to abor­tion.

“We’re dis­ap­pointed, but not de­feated,” said Parker. “Like the civil rights move­ment, we’re in it for the long haul.”

Anti-abor­tion lead­ers ini- tially were wary of Trump, who in the past had sup­ported abor­tion rights. They ral­lied be­hind him — and launched a mas­sive door­knock­ing cam­paign in sev­eral bat­tle­ground states — af­ter he pledged to sup­port sev­eral of their key goals. These in­clude de­fund­ing of Planned Par­ent­hood, a ban on most late-term abor­tions, and the ap­point­ment of Supreme Court jus­tices who might weaken or re­verse Roe v. Wade.

Mar­jorie Dan­nens­felser, leader of the anti-abor­tion Su­san B. An­thony List, hailed the GOP sweep as “an his­toric mo­ment for the pro-life move­ment,” putting its goals within reach.

Yet some wari­ness re­mained.

“We are well aware that prom­ises are not deeds,” said Troy New­man, the pres­i­dent of Op­er­a­tion Res­cue. “We will work to hold the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s feet to the fire through­out Trump’s pres­i­dency, to en­sure that prom­ises are kept.”

Planned Par­ent­hood, whose ser­vices in­clude birth con­trol, sex ed­u­ca­tion and abor­tions, has been a long­time tar­get of Repub­li­can politi­cians, and is now brac­ing for intensified chal­lenges.

“There are al­most no words to cap­ture the threat that this elec­tion re­sult poses,” said the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pres­i­dent, Ce­cile Richards. “We will not give up, we will not back down.”

On so­cial me­dia, many women were broach­ing the op­tion of ac­quir­ing lon­glast­ing in­trauter­ine de­vices as their form of birth con­trol, on the pos­si­bil­ity that birth-con­trol pills would no longer be avail­able free if Obama’s health care act is re­pealed.

The GOP tri­umph was a heavy blow to the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign and other gay-rights or­ga­ni­za­tions which had worked vig­or­ously on be­half of Hillary Clin­ton. They em­braced her cam­paign as un­prece­dented in the breadth of its out­reach to gays, les­bians, bi­sex­u­als and trans­gen­der peo­ple.

“It hurts,” said Rachel Tiven, CEO of the LGBTrights group Lambda Le­gal. “Our beau­ti­ful, slowly im­prov­ing, two-steps-for­ward-one-step-back coun­try took a gi­ant step back­ward.”

LGBT ac­tivists are now won­der­ing if same-sex mar­riage — le­gal­ized na­tion­wide by a 2015 Supreme Court rul­ing — is in jeop­ardy given the prospect of Trump ap­point­ing con­ser­va­tive jus­tices who might re­con­sider that de­ci­sion.

Ac­tivists also are wor­ried by news that Ken Black­well, a for­mer Cincin­nati mayor, was be­ing tapped to han­dle do­mes­tic is­sues for Trump’s tran­si­tion team. Black­well is a se­nior fel­low with the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil, a staunch foe of same-sex mar­riage and other LGBTrights causes.

On same-sex mar­riage and other is­sues, the Obama years brought one de­feat af­ter another for reli­gious con­ser­va­tives, who saw the pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers on an in­ex­orable march to cur­tail the rights of peo­ple of faith.

Lib­er­als con­sid­ered these fears overblown and said the First Amend­ment al­ready of­fered sig­nif­i­cant pro­tec­tion for reli­gious groups. But con­ser­va­tive Chris­tians were deeply anx­ious about their fu­ture. Their only ma­jor vic­tory came when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago in fa­vor of Hobby Lobby, the Chris­tian-owned arts and crafts chains with faith ob­jec­tions to the birth con­trol cov­er­age re­quire­ment in the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Now, ad­vo­cates see a trans­formed land­scape.

“We now have more equi­lib­rium be­tween the so­called com­pet­ing sides — be­tween the LGBT rights move­ment and the reli­gious free­dom pro­po­nents,” said Tim Schultz of the 1st Amend­ment Part­ner­ship, a Wash­ing­ton-based group which ad­vo­cates for reli­gious ex­emp­tions.

In a let­ter last month to Catholics, Trump de­cried what he called hos­til­ity to reli­gious free­dom and pledged, “I will de­fend your reli­gious lib­er­ties and the right to fully and freely prac­tice your re­li­gion, as in­di­vid­u­als, busi­ness own­ers and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions.”

Dur­ing the cam­paign, he promised to re­peal the John­son Amend­ment, an IRS rule bar­ring pas­tors from en­dors­ing can­di­dates from the pul­pit.

Due to the elec­tion re­sults, Schultz ex­pects the Jus­tice De­part­ment will be friend­lier to reli­gious con­ser­va­tives, and Congress more will­ing to en­act leg­is­la­tion that ad­vances con­science pro­tec­tions.

Re­tired Navy Chap­lain Wes Mod­der, a Pen­te­costal min­is­ter, was the tar­get of a com­plaint that he was dis­re­spect­ful in coun­sel­ing gay sailors when dis­cussing his reli­gious op­po­si­tion to same-sex re­la­tion­ships. The First Liberty In­sti­tute took him on as a client and suc­cess­fully chal­lenged the com­plaint as a vi­o­la­tion of Mod­der’s reli­gious free­dom. The case be­came a ral­ly­ing cry for Chris­tian con­ser­va­tives up­set about the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sup­port for LGBT rights.

“No mil­i­tary chap­lain should have to go through what I went through,” Mod­der said of his fight to avoid be­ing ousted from the Navy.

Mod­der, among mil­i­tary vet­er­ans who met with Trump in Septem­ber, said he was very hope­ful that Trump and Vice Pres­i­den­t­elect Mike Pence, a reli­gious con­ser­va­tive, will ad­vance poli­cies that would pre­vent re­cur­rences of what hap­pened to him.

Trump “un­der­stands the im­por­tance of reli­gious liberty,” said Mod­der, who re­cently re­tired from the mil­i­tary to be­come a pas­tor in Chicago. “The team that he is as­sem­bling, the peo­ple he is sur­round­ing him­self with, I think are go­ing to give him the right mes­sag­ing.”


From left, Ce­leste Ramirez, 20, Erin Cko­dre , 21, Ron­ald El­liott, 18, Pa­tri­cia Romo, 22, and Rose Am­mons, 18, hold up signs Thurs­day dur­ing a rally at Texas State Univer­sity in San Mar­cos, Texas, to protest Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion vic­tory.

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