One of the nation’s leading cultural conservatives says Republican Party leaders are looking for an excuse to avoid fights over religious liberty and freedom of conscience out of fear of being labeled anti-gay, and she says a win by Democrats in the North Carolina governor’s race could be just what they’ve been looking for.
Why North Carolina?
The Tar Heel State has witnessed an intense debate over the past several months on transgender accommodation. The Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance requiring every government building, school and business to allow people to use the restrooms, showers and other public facilities according to their own gender identity.
North Carolina lawmakers responded with legislation allowing business owners to set their own policies while maintaining that all government buildings and public schools and universities require people to use the facilities corresponding with the sex listed on their birth certificates.
The law is now clogged up in the courts, as is an Obama administration order for every public school in the nation to allow students and adults to act according to their gender identity.
Former National Organization for Marriage President Maggie Gallagher says national Republicans are closely watching this race because they would love to move these issues off their plates.
“They’re going to look at this McCrory race and they’re going to decide whether or not they’re going to shut down on these issues, whether these are just not politically viable issues in America,” said Gallagher, who is now a senior fellow at the American Principles Project Foundation.
“I can tell you that the national Republican Party would like to shut down. This is going to include not only the national Republican Party, but you’re going to see the wave of state efforts to provide conscience protections to gay marriage dissenters grind to a halt,” said Gallagher.
With McCrory trailing Democrat Roy Cooper and so much attention being paid to social issues, Gallagher says a McCrory loss will lead national GOP figures to the wrong conclusion.
“If it turns out this is a losing issue for McCrory in North Carolina, which is not Vermont or Massachusetts, this is going to be read by the political class as, ‘Stay away from any issue the left says is anti-gay,'” said Gallagher.
She says the party is squeamish about standing up for conscience right and religious liberties for two major reasons. First, the Chamber of Commerce wants nothing to do with it/
“The Chamber of Commerce has emerged as one of the leading voices against conscience protections for gay marriage dissenters or pushing back against this radical idea that biological males get to shower with your daughter,” said Gallagher. “The business wing of the party has already folded and caved on this.”
Gallagher says the GOP is mainly focused on fiscal issues and is only interested in embracing a socially conservative position when the public has taken an overwhelming stand in that direction.
“In order for a social issue to break into the agenda under the political strategies that Christian conservatives have been using, it has to be an incredible, overwhelming political winner. If you can show us that 65 percent of the country is on your side, then maybe the Republican Party will be on your side too,” said Gallagher.
Absent those lopsided numbers, Gallagher says GOP elites have as much use for social conservatives as Democrats do.
“[The McCrory-Cooper race] is really a national election. It is going to decide whether both parties agree with the Obama administration transgender initiative and both parties agree you’re like a bigot or a hater if you dissent from gay marriage and should be treated the same way,” said Gallagher.
Gallagher says Republicans could make great strides by pointing out that this fight is entirely because Obama and the Democrats are forcing an agenda on the American people. She says North Carolina is really the only entity to fight back, although some states have also taken the administration to court. She says the Obama forces would not even allow parents to know their children are identifying as another gender.
“In Charlotte, the training notes for teachers, for children even in grade school, they are told they should be very careful about letting parents know if children are transitioning to the other gender,” said Gallagher.
She says social conservatives have to get directly involved in the political process and not just fume on the sidelines.
“We don’t devote political institutions with the resources that can actually go in contested elections and help our guys out, un-elect our opponents and make sure that our friends who stick their neck out are protected,” said Gallagher, who adds she sees none of that support going towards McCrory right now.
According to Gallagher, a concerted, organized campaign is needed against the well-oiled political machine of the left.
“What we’re watching unfold is the kind of ’80s and ’90s idea that if the left just takes extreme positions, the American people will spontaneously rebel,” said Gallagher. “The left has gotten much better at controlling the message, controlling the framework.”
Gallagher asserts this is not really even a stand against the LGBT agenda, since the entire Democratic movement is now “all-in on using the power of the federal government to fundamentally take away the privacy rights of girls and the rights of every public school across America.”
She says the time for social conservatives to take a stand is right now because losing now means a very bleak future.
“We’re just going to continue to see our rights rapidly overturned and our place in society redefined as the equivalent of racists, haters and bigots,” said Gallagher.