President Donald Trump bowed to the anti-civil rights posture of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and his fundamentalist anti-gay base in rescinding Obama administration directives to prevent discrimination against transgender students.
But I’d like to highlight what others noted last night: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may be unfit for the job, but she apparently has a heart.
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Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.
Mr. Sessions, who has opposed expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, pushed Ms. DeVos to relent. After getting nowhere, he took his objections to the White House because he could not go forward without her consent. Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, the Republicans said, and told Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her opposition. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the alternative of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along.
No heart evident from a statement by the attorney general of Arkansas, Leslie Rutledge, who has as little concern for the rights of LGBT people as Sessions. Here’s her cackle last night at the news of the Trump decision, which should moot one of those cooked-up Republican agenda lawsuits in which Rutledge has participated.
“The Trump Justice Department was correct to withdraw the previous administration’s bathroom directive,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This unlawful federal directive was an attempt to force a liberal, outrageous social agenda on school-age children. Local schools, not the federal government, are in a much better position to provide reasonable, dignified, respectful solutions for all students, including those who are transgendered. I will continue to review tonight’s guidance, and discuss with my colleagues around the country the impact it will have on our current litigation.”
Reasonable, dignified and respectful? Not someone who disdains equal rights.