Politics

Two Americas: Chasm Grows Between Red And Blue States On Hot-Button Social Issues

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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  • Polarization on social issues is creating dramatically different legal landscapes between red and blue states. 
  • Republican-led states are passing laws limiting abortion and restricting child sex change procedures, while Democrat-led states are expanding abortion access and styling themselves as havens for transgender children fleeing red states.
  • “The divide between the American Left and Right on whether or not children should be sexualized in schools will continue to grow until the Left suffer real political consequences for their radical agenda,” Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Red and blue states are rapidly moving further apart on hot-button social issues as lawmakers and activists shift their focus to topics like abortion and transgenderism.

Republican-led states are passing waves of laws limiting elective abortions and sex change treatments for children, while blue states attempt to become havens for transgender children and abortion-seekers. Legislative efforts to impose 15-week abortion limits, restrict sexuality and gender ideology in classrooms and limit transgender participation in women’s sports have cropped up in GOP-led states across the country; each of these measures has recently passed in Florida alone.

“The policies that we champion are really common-sense positions that have broad support from among the average Floridian,” a spokesman for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Children shouldn’t be indoctrinated or sexualized in the classroom. Parents have rights when it comes to their child’s education. Life is life and worth protecting, whether in the womb or outside of it. On these matters, we take a stand.”

Florida recently banned abortions after 15 weeks, restricted classroom instruction on sex and gender and required athletes to participate in divisions corresponding to their biological sex. The state’s new Parental Rights in Education law, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law, banned classroom lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation for kindergarten through third grade, sparking outrage from prominent Democrats, LGBT activists and the corporate media.

DeSantis also signed a bill creating support programs to encourage fatherhood and released a proclamation declaring a female swimmer the winner of an NCAA championship race she lost to a biological male athlete who identifies as a transgender woman.

Terry Schilling, president of the pro-family political advocacy organization American Principles Project (APP), told the Daily Caller News Foundation that frustrated parents were a driving force behind many of these legislative efforts. APP has been active in promoting legislation targeting certain forms of gender education and Critical Race Theory (CRT) lessons in schools.

“Over the last couple years, as schools shut down and children were forced to ‘learn’ via Zoom, parents were given a glimpse at what was actually taking place in the classroom,” he said. “They weren’t happy about what they saw: indoctrination into radical racial and sexual ideologies while the important subjects — math, reading, science — were left by the wayside.”

‘California’s door is always open’

While Republican state lawmakers have pushed a socially conservative agenda, blue states have fired back with their own social policies, advancing legal abortion up to the point of birth and promoting sex change treatments for children who believe they are transgender.

As Texas attempted to prosecute child sex change procedures as a form of child abuse and Alabama passed a bill banning sex change treatments for minors, California lawmakers introduced a bill that would make the state a “place of refuge” for families putting their children through medical sex changes. (RELATED: Child Sex Change Treatments Are A Hill Some LGBT Activists Are Willing To Die On)

“Trans kids and their families should be celebrated – not targeted by the state! They are heroes,” Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “To fearful families in Texas right now – California’s door is always open to you.”

California also introduced legislation to fund abortion tourism in anticipation of more women traveling to the state as Republican-led states passed numerous new abortion restrictions in 2021 and 2022.

Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, meanwhile, supported a bill requiring sex-segregated restrooms as well as a bill banning sex change procedures for children.

“Enough of this woke radical nonsense that preys on our kids,” Ivey said. “We’re going to focus on protecting our kids and keeping our schools focused on being a place where students learn the fundamentals.”

Jon Michaels, a law professor who studies government at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The New York Times that the waves of contrasting bills tackling social issues were driving a wedge between red and blue states.

“We’re further and further polarizing and fragmenting, so that blue states and red states are becoming not only a little different but radically different,” he said.

‘What happens to Roe’

Numerous Republican-led states passed 15-week abortion limits after the Supreme Court took up a case surrounding Mississippi’s 15-week limit in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. The case gives the Court an opportunity to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade or change the generally understood legal definition of fetal viability, which would allow states to make stricter abortion laws.

Several other states have passed even stricter abortion limits; Texas banned most abortions after six weeks, the point at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected, along with Idaho and South Carolina. Oklahoma passed a ban on abortion at all points in pregnancy except in medical emergencies threatening the life of the mother April 12, Ron DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion limit April 14, and Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a similar bill March 31.

The Republican-dominated Kentucky legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of an abortion bill April 14, making a 15-week abortion limit law and requiring proper treatment of human remains following certain fetal deaths.

Meanwhile, Democrat-led states are expanding abortion access even further. Maryland lawmakers passed legislation enshrining abortion as a constitutional right March 11 and overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill pouring millions of dollars into abortion trainings for non-physicians April 9.

Colorado legalized abortion throughout the entire duration of a pregnancy April 4, and Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit to make abortion a constitutional right in the state April 7.

“No matter what happens to Roe, I am going to fight like hell and use all the tools I have as governor to ensure reproductive freedom is protected,” Whitmer said upon filing the suit. “That’s a fight worth having.”

Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, told the DCNF that the chasm between Republican-led states and Democrat-led states would only widen as parents’ newfound political involvement continues to drive politics in the upcoming midterms.

“The divide between the American Left and Right on whether or not children should be sexualized in schools will continue to grow until the Left suffer real political consequences for their radical agenda,” Schilling said.

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