Dear Friend of the Family,
I asked Sheldon Kinsel, Family Watch’s Director of Public Policy, to outline for us some of the victories and challenges for the family and family values during the first 40 days of the Trump administration. What follows is based on Sheldon’s informative report:
In the first 40 days of the Trump administration there have been some significant victories for the family and family values, both in the U.S. and around the world.
However, there are still some important lingering questions since it is taking longer than expected for details of some of the new administration’s policies to emerge. This is in part due to problems with staffing the new administration.
In fact, President Trump’s critical cabinet secretary nominees are being confirmed at the slowest pace in U.S. history, largely because Senate Democrats are engaging in unprecedented delaying tactics to slow down the confirmation process. After more than 40 days, several of the 20 cabinet-level appointees still have not been confirmed. If this delay continues, it will be a long time before more of the details of Trump’s policies become clear. And even when the minority is not intentionally obstructing the confirmation process, it takes months to fill the more than 4,000 political appointments throughout the federal departments and agencies.
Still, there have been a number of very significant and encouraging actions in the first 40 days.
Reinstated Mexico City Policy. On his first working day in office President Trump reinstated this policy that prohibits U.S. funds from going to any non-governmental organization that performs or is otherwise involved in promoting abortions. This is a great pro-life victory, as it will cut a little more than US$32 million that had been funding these groups.
Rescinded “Guidelines” to Schools on Transgender Students. The guidelines issued by the Obama Department of Education directed school districts to allow gender-confused students to use the bathrooms, locker rooms, showers and other sexually segregated facilities of their choice regardless of their actual gender. The Obama administration justified these directions by claiming that existing federal law prohibiting discrimination of the basis of “sex” also applied to “gender identity.” The guidelines also contained a threat to the federal funding of districts that did not comply. Parents across the U.S. are particularly heartened that even though Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly opposed rescinding the guidelines, President Trump sided with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others who were pushing for doing so.
Appointed Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador. The former South Carolina governor is a staunch conservative and strongly pro-life. In her first few weeks at the UN she has made it clear that she will be an assertive and effective representative of the president. It is not clear yet exactly how the U.S. position will change at upcoming UN meetings, but it will certainly be more pro-family than it was under President Obama.
Nominated Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination of Supreme Court justices who can serve on the high court for decades after a president leaves office is one of the most enduring impacts any president has on a wide range of policies. True to his promises during the campaign, Trump’s appointment to the vacancy on the nine-member court, Neil Gorsuch, has a well-established record as a conservative jurist who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not try to create new law from the bench.
Strong Administration Support for the March for Life. President Trump expressed strong support for the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. and sent Vice President Pence to speak at the event--the highest ranking elected official to ever address the marchers in person. Kellyanne Conway, the manager of Trump’s presidential campaign and now one of his key advisors, also spoke at the rally.
Also, President Trump has pledged to make sharp cuts in discretionary federal spending including the State Department budget and its programs such as foreign aid. (See our documentary “Cultural Imperialism: The Sexual Rights Agenda” to learn how the Obama administration used U.S. foreign aid as a lever to impose controversial sexual rights on developing countries.)
There will likely be additional cuts in U.S. support of the United Nations, which totals about $8 billion per year. President Trump has been outspoken in questioning the value to the U.S. of many of the UN’s activities and actions, and has called for significant changes and reforms. This is in line with a long-held negative view on the effectiveness of the UN held by a number of influential members of Congress.
It has been reported that the UN’s support for abortion is a particular concern for the Trump Administration. The U.S. government has been giving about $600 million a year to the UN for such programs.
Despite all of the positive actions, pro-family supporters in the U.S. still have a number of concerns. One is President Trump’s decision not to revoke Obama’s 2014 executive order that required contractors working for the federal government to implement nondiscrimination policies relating to the employment of homosexual and transgender individuals.
Many feel it is inappropriate for the federal government to dictate personnel policies to private employers, particularly with respect to the highly controversial concepts of gender identity and expression. Gender confusion in its most serious manifestations is a recognized mental disorder called “Gender Dysphoria.” Professionals strongly disagree on whether it is best for those suffering from gender confusion to affirm them in their chosen gender or to get them help to be comfortable with their true biological sex. (A post on Tumblr has a "Master List" that identifies 112 “genders.”)
Across the U.S., alleged rights to gender identity protections are increasingly coming in conflict with personal and religious freedom rights not to be forced to recognize a person as the opposite gender (or as any number of the dozens of other claimed “genders”) since many hold either a personal or religious belief that gender is a biological, fixed trait at birth.
Another concern is the delay of an executive order to protect religious freedom, a promise President Trump made during his campaign. Some sources have suggested, however, that the order may have been delayed to avoid complicating the U.S. Senate’s confirmation process for Judge Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice.
A particularly encouraging sign is the apparent growing influence of Vice President Mike Pence in policy decisions related to the family, life and other social issues. The vice president has a very strong pro-life and pro-family record, and his selection as Trump’s running mate went a long way toward easing concerns many social conservatives had about candidate Trump.
It was always clear that a Trump administration would be more supportive of life, the family, and family values in the U.S. and around the world than a President Hillary Clinton would have been. The question was always how much more supportive Donald Trump would be.
Although some concerns still remain, overall, based on several of these significant pro-life, pro-family actions in the first 40 days of Trump’s presidency, we are very encouraged.
We will keep you apprised as new developments occur.