Friday | December 15, 2017
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Trump goes backward on LGBT and women’s rights

President Donald Trump has never been a political ideologue, or a Republican or Democrat with hard-partisan beliefs. In fact, he’s been a member of both parties, has been on all sides of most issues and has never shown any interest in keeping company with his blue-collar, hard-right supporters in what’s said to be his “base.”

The president’s lack of strong political convictions therefore makes his latest volley — intended to weaken birth-control protections for women and the rights of those in the LGBT community when it comes to being discriminated against — all the more suspect and opportunistic.

Directives from Trump’s administration would allow more employers to opt out of federal mandates to provide no-cost birth control for workers — a part of Obama-era policies — and would couch an intention to remove discrimination protections for those in the LGBT community in the cloak of “religious freedom.” What that in effect means is that organizations, including presumably governments, could claim religious beliefs are more important than legal protections for LGBT individuals. It sounds like rules requiring public officials to issue marriage licenses for gay couples, for example, could be in jeopardy. Those officials could claim their religious beliefs prevent them from doing their government jobs, and they would be protected. That could create a form of government-sponsored discrimination.

This is simple: Trump, obsessed with blaming all ills, even imagined ones, on his predecessor and diverting attention from the failures of his first year in office, has given free rein to people such as his right-wing attorney general Jeff Sessions.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had it right when she said: “This administration’s contempt for women reaches a new low with this appalling decision to enable employers and health plans to deny women basic coverage for contraception.”

Trump has accomplished virtually nothing of consequence in nine months, and even now he’s embroiled in a tussle with his own secretary of state. His staff has turned over; many important jobs remain unfilled; his lack of empathy for the victims of natural disasters — even when he “shows up” — can’t be covered up by towel-tossing or repeated boasting of how great he is at his job.

Into this vacuum of leadership come hard-right ideologues eager to pounce, to put into law some utterly wacky notions. No birth control coverage? In what universe is increasing the likelihood of more unwanted, potentially hazardous births and the consequences for those children good policy?

If Trump continues stumbling along with extreme executive orders and commands from his Cabinet that please only his base, his administration is set on a do nothing but undo rules and policies within its reach. That’s not leading the nation. It’s simply wrecking the work of his predecessor, who was a far more popular, effective and compassionate president.

— The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)


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