David Houggy: Trump and consequences

David Houggy
Guest Commentary

Donald Trump has promised to sign a bill currently in Congress that will allow anyone to discriminate against gay people because of their religious beliefs. This is a bill similar to what was passed and signed by Mike Pence in Indiana and ultimately had to be withdrawn due to public outcry and corporate protestations.

Given that national support for gay marriage is 55 percent in favor, 37 percent opposed (Pew Research, May 12, 2016), hopefully that will happen again here. Regardless of the outcome, the very fact that such a law is even being considered is reprehensible and stands against what we as a country and as the Aspen community stand for.

From the bill:

“The First Amendment Defense Act (often abbreviated FADA) (H.R. 2802) is a bill introduced into the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate on June 17, 2015. The Senate sponsor of the bill is Mike Lee (R-Utah), and the House sponsor is Raul Labrador (R-Idaho). The bill aims to prevent the federal government from taking action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

The language of the bill is very specifically written to erode gay rights. This bill appears to allow any person to discriminate against any other person if they feel their “religious beliefs justify it.” If the surgeon who can save your life decides that she doesn’t want to help you, this bill gives her leeway to not help you (I’m not a lawyer and don’t claim to know the ins and outs of how it would be enforced or when it would apply, or what the repercussions to the surgeon would be).

This isn’t about pizzas and wedding cakes. It is about human decency, compassion and humanity.

This is what all of his supporters said would not happen under Trump: that he wouldn’t do what he promised to do, and yet now he is in fact doing those things. Is this an alarmist, premature response? I hope so. But what we have seen recently with the Trump administration in terms of their lack of knowledge and competence in running the government is worse than anything we have seen in modern history, and their motives are unclear. When we look back on history and all of the times when early intervention could have made a significant difference, we are often dismayed by our timidity in the moment. The time to act is now.

Barack Obama made lots of mistakes. So did G.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, G.H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and, of course, Richard Nixon and everyone before him. Those were (mostly, with the glaring recent exception of Nixon) due to lapses in judgment, incorrect or incomplete information or lack of experience. This is all of those plus a complete lack of knowledge of how to govern. And that’s not going to change. Trump is dangerously ignorant about a lot of things, and has shown a great unwillingness to even attempt to learn. Trump has elevated Steve Bannon, a civilian who was neither voted into office by the U.S. electorate nor vetted and approved by the Congress, to the National Security Council, and limited the roles of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the same time. This is, as John McCain said, unprecedented.

We are in uncharted territory. Call your representatives. Become informed. Reject suspicious information sources on both sides of the spectrum. Read credible sources that disagree with you. Talk to informed smart people.

Sen. Michael Bennet: 866-455-9866

Sen. Cory Gardner: 303-391-5777

Rep. Scott Tipton: 970-241-2499

Stay vigilant.

David Houggy is an Aspen resident who does business strategy consulting and nonprofit management in the valley.