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Equality Edict 

Taking a Gander: Biden's executive order rolls back Trump's anti-LGBTQ policies.

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Our new president is off to a rolling start. But not everyone is happy.

Jan. 20 marked an historic day for progress toward non-discrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans. The newly inaugurated Biden took a long-awaited opportunity to memorialize the sacred concept of personal, civil rights. He reassured every one of us, that no one's freedoms are any less precious than their brother's, and he made a bold move toward enforcing the applicable standing decisions of the Supreme Court.

In short, Biden's order—whether best-timed or not—was the ultimate endorsement of equal rights for all, particularly in the workplace—ensuring that sexual and sexual-identity discrimination will not be tolerated. It's easy to see why our president was anxious to deal with this matter, as the previous administration's policies were impediments to the very concept of "making America great again." Biden's actions seem totally justified, and history, I believe, is likely to have a very favorable view of what he did.

Biden's executive order, simply, demands that all federal agencies honor the 2020 landmark SCOTUS decision of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, establishing that LGBTQ people cannot be discriminated against under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This should be no cause for anyone's resentment; his action wasn't to create anything new; it only served to reiterate what was already part of our laws—not just for the sexes, but for the less-defined realms of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

It's really a no-brainer; everyone is entitled to protection under the law, and there should never have been any question about it. But, the Trump administration—frequently characterized, unfortunately, by racist and sexist policies—had attempted to limit those freedoms, particularly in the area of transgender citizens. Biden simply clarified that the existing law would be enforced. So, what's wrong with that? No one should have a problem with it; should they?

Unfortunately, this is a sensitive issue for some religious zealots, whose sole existence seems to focus on imposing their will on everyone else. While the Human Rights Campaign—the nation's largest LBGTQ advocacy group—hailed Biden's executive order as one of the most significant moves toward true gender and sexual orientation equality, not every American saw it that way.

Instead of rejoicing about this long-awaited progress, some Christian groups are squirming, decrying the move as contrary to biblical mandates. (Oh, yes, this bears a striking similarity to other extremists, who cannot be happy if their neighbors don't embrace the same religious faith, and whose passion is to create a theocracy in the place of freedom.) Despite the short history of our country, some of the misguided seem determined to forget the theme of equality and religious freedom that launched the exodus of disenfranchised Europeans toward Plymouth Rock.

The flip side of all this, of course, is that President Biden is determined to end the spit-in-your-face disregard that Trump had so faithfully practiced, both on his fellow Americans and our most faithful allies. If something was a glaring afront to the accomplishments of Obama's two terms, Trump, time and time again, embraced its summary destruction. That's really the word that characterizes the past four years: destruction—all for the sake of a very distorted ego.

While every patriotic American should find encouragement in Biden's order, there is also a hint of déjà. We are seeing some familiar mirroring of how our last president actively trampled many of the accomplishments of his predecessor. Destruction, for the sake of destruction of another's legacy seemed to characterize Trump's reign. Republican or Democrat, it was easy to see the unveiled anger Trump had toward Obama's popularity. Trump's agenda had been all too clear—a four-year tantrum with only one single goal: to invalidate any good that Obama had done.

Biden's out-of-the-gate moves, though flying in the face of the Trump years, has a different flavor. My assessment is that he seeks to right the wrongs of the chaos that ruled D.C. It is not intended to insult the previous administration but aimed at fixing the knee-jerk reactions and lack of normal restraints that had hurt Americans and our allies alike.

Biden's executive order may have come at a questionable time, and a number of his various EOs seem reminiscent of the counterproductive sins of the previous White House. But that doesn't invalidate the fact that Biden is on the right track—one, not guided by the egotistical act of intentionally undermining the greatness of our democracy but centered on the premise of those things that make us proudly American, those that echo the great vision of our Founding Fathers.

All Americans, of all or no religious convictions, are sworn to the protection of the inalienable rights of man. Biden is showing that he is committed to that essential principle of our democracy.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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