By Tony Perkins
President Obama may be gone, but his ghost continues to haunt the thousands of rules still governing how the agencies do business. A few days after the Trump White House shipped the school bathroom debate back to states, another transgender holdover from the 44th president cropped up — this time at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In another parting gift to his far-Left friends, Obama made sure to tack on another guidance that’s just as dangerous as his Education mandate — maybe more so. Under the agency’s “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” policy, the department just opened the doors to gender-free shelters.
Much to the delight of Obama’s camp, the rule became final this month, giving LGBT activists something to cheer in an otherwise depressing week for their agenda. As part of the guidance, the government is ordering all of its properties to comply with “shared sleeping quarters or shared bathing facilities” — giving predators an even bigger foothold to exploit. And as usual, faith-based groups that partner with the federal government will have to comply — no matter what their moral objections may be. Although the policy has already gone into effect, Brian Sullivan of HUD’s Office of Public Affairs says that the agency is taking comments for the next two weeks on a second rule that would “‘require owners and operators of [Office of Community Planning and Development]-funded shelters, housing, buildings and other facilities’ to print and post a notice on bulletin boards or other public spaces where it can be seen by those seeking services,” Weekly Standard reports.
Of course, the wrinkle in all of this is the confirmation of new HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a staunch conservative, who’s expected to pass through the Senate this week. The question on everyone’s minds is not so much if, but when, the new boss will roll back the rules. “As to future regulatory action by HUD, I can’t say,” Sullivan told reporters. “We must digest the comments that would inform our future decisions … so stay tuned.” Obviously, the mop-up operation on Obama’s policies will continue for some time, since there’s no telling how many rules like this one are buried in regulations across the administration.
Fortunately, the Trump team seems determined to end the Obama-era social engineering that threatens our First Freedom. But as this edict from HUD once again reveals nothing would be more helpful in this mop up process than an executive order protecting religious liberty. In so many ways, the success of Trump’s overall agenda depends on keeping this critical base of support — evangelicals — energized. He doesn’t want to repeat the mistake of George W. Bush, who in 2004 engaged the Christian community on the topic of marriage (even winning 19 percent of the African American vote in the critical swing state of Ohio) only to drop the issue after the election. Instead, he announced that social security reform would be the focus of his second term. And how did that turn out?
Right now, the most enthusiastic supporters of Trump are evangelicals, the same ones who helped deliver one of the most stunning upsets in election history. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hinted at the possibility of tackling the issue. “I think we’ve discussed executive orders in the past, and for the most part, we’re not going to get into discussing what may or may not come until we’re ready to announce it,” Spicer said. “So, I’m sure as we move forward we’ll have something.” Fifty-six percent of Americans say Trump is delivering on his promises. Protecting religious liberty should be one of them.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, a Christian public policy ministry based in Washington, D.C., and, interim pastor of Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in the Baton Rouge, La., area. This column originally was posted at FRC.org.