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Bonta enters as one of the nation’s most liberal attorneys general and has repeatedly spoken about a lack of trust between law enforcement and the communities they police. His ascension comes as reform-minded prosecutors have come to power around California and the country and ignited a fierce battle with from law enforcement. Bonta is allied with those prosecutors.

“I’ve been proud to partner with each of you to pass a number of big reforms and to right historic wrongs — to repair our criminal justice system,” Bonta told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing, adding that he hoped to make California “a national vanguard for reform.”

Bonta, 48, takes over a position that has become a prime Democratic stepping stone. The last three state AGs were now-Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Eight years ago, Bonta arrived in Sacramento in the midst of a generational shift in thinking on law and order. Emboldened by durable Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature and victories at the ballot box, California lawmakers have spent years repudiating the state’s tough-on-crime past by pushing to reduce incarceration and cut down sentencing. Bonta’s record as a lawmaker aligns him firmly with that trend.

Still, voters remain unpredictable. While they affirmed sentencing rollbacks at the ballot last year, they also chose to keep California’s cash bail system, overriding the Legislature’s attempt to ban it.

Two serious Bonta challengers have emerged and more could follow. Republican Nathan Hochman, a former assistant U.S. attorney general, and independent Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced they would run soon after Bonta was confirmed last month.

Schubert in particular could pose a tough challenge if she survives the June top-two primary. She left the Republican Party in 2018 and has won big headlines for playing a lead role in solving the Golden State Killer crime spree — perhaps the state’s most puzzling cold case in the last 50 years — and helping to identify inmates who were illegally collecting unemployment benefits from California during the pandemic.

She said in an interview that “some of these bills that Bonta is supporting or passing” fuel “the continual erosion of crime victims rights and really a danger to public safety.”

The campaign could morph into the latest referendum on California’s aggressive moves away from stringent sentencing and incarceration. A new class of progressive prosecutors like Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has come to power in California, channeling a national racial justice movement and tapping into a national fundraising network that can counter the deep resources of law enforcement unions. Bonta endorsed Gascón and has worked with Boudin on police use-of-force legislation.

Both Boudin and Gascón have faced headwinds since their election. They are staring down recall campaigns, and a statewide group representing prosecutors joined with Los Angeles line attorneys in suing to block Gascón’s efforts to suspend sentencing enhancements, expanding a rift between the majority of California’s prosecutors and a new generation of reformers. Schubert is a leader in the prosecutors’ group, the California District Attorneys Association.

Bonta’s reelection campaign is likely to reproduce those dynamics on a statewide scale. Bonta predicted at his introductory press conference that “a lot of folks [are] prepared to get behind an election.” Law enforcement interests could throw their weight behind a candidate who rejects the agenda of reformers like Bonta and Gascón.

Schubert already has repudiated Gascón, refusing to share jurisdiction on cases with him, and she said in an interview that “when Gascón and Chesa Boudin are the ones tweeting out their overwhelming support for [Bonta], anyone who’s concerned about public safety should be concerned about this nomination.”

“I believe crime victims’ rights have been eviscerated and they have been ignored by these types of individuals,” she said.

Bonta political adviser Dana Williamson responded that Schubert is “tremendously flawed” and called the Sacramento prosecutor’s criticisms “Trumpian lies” in a likely preview of campaign messaging next year. Williamson was quick to point to CDAA’s misuse of $2.9 million in enforcement funds on political activities and Schubert decisions not to prosecute officers in high-profile police shootings.

“She has refused to bring excessive force cases and serves as treasurer of an organization that misspent millions meant to prosecute polluters,” Williamson said in a statement. “Now she wants to lead the Department of Justice — the same entity that is investigating her organization’s misdeeds.”

Bonta’s history has trained him for a legal career while orienting him toward activism. His parents helped organize California farm workers, giving him a front-row seat from the family trailer — provided by the powerful United Farm Workers — to one of the state’s most storied social justice movements. That experience ensured, in Bonta’s words, that “their fight for justice has been hardwired into who I am.” He went on to earn undergraduate and law degrees from Yale, where he captained the soccer team, before working as an attorney for San Francisco and as a health care official and then vice mayor of Alameda.

He won his East Bay Assembly seat in 2012, wearing a traditional barong tagalog for his swearing in as he became the first Filipino-American to serve in the Legislature. Throughout his time there, Bonta has been a reliably progressive vote at the leftward end of Sacramento’s ever-growing Democratic caucus, and his bills show a long-running commitment to overhauling how California incarcerates immigrants and inmates — repeatedly putting him at odds with influential law enforcement interests.


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He fought for years to limit California’s use of private detention facilities, in 2019 securing a ban on for-profit prison contracts. His efforts to phase out cash bail culminated in a law banning the practice that voters subsequently overturned. He sought repeatedly to limit California’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He has pushed to expand compensation for crime victims and to offer services like condoms and pregnancy care to inmates. He firmly opposes the death penalty.

Bonta has also pushed year after year to have California collect more precise data on Asian American subgroups. One of his first bills signed into law required state curricula on California’s farmworker movement to cover the contributions of Filipino-Americans like his parents.

That record helped build an alliance of criminal justice reformers and Asian Americans who pushed Newsom to appoint Bonta attorney general — a message that gained urgency after a wave of anti-Asian violence. In an interview, Bonta said it was possible to be “smart on crime, while pursuing accountability, supporting our victims and enforcing our existing laws is the right way.”

Progressive backers hope Bonta will continue pushing to reduce incarceration and policing in marginalized communities, forego the death penalty and advocate for more police accountability. During his confirmation hearing, Bonta endorsed legislation that would allow California to decertify peace officers for misconduct — a priority for reformers.

“What’s happening in the world is we’re talking about accountability for individual officers, as we just saw with the Derek Chauvin trial,” said Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles Chapter, “but we’re not talking about accountability for departments. And so we’d love to have Bonta engage in a way that brings accountability for departments.”

That accountability would include investigating police departments when officers shoot and kill suspects, Abdullah said. One of Bonta’s tasks will be enforcing a new state law requiring his office to take over police slaying investigations — which was enacted last year after years of thwarted attempts.

Bonta will have just months on the job before he has to stand for reelection in 2022. That he represents a safely Democratic seat in the liberal Bay Area brings advantages and disadvantages: a lack of competitive elections has let him pile up a $2.4 million war chest, but it also means Bonta has never been truly tested during election season and has scant statewide name recognition.

Despite the competitive election ahead, Bonta can win public opinion, said Tinisch Hollins, the executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. She points to the elections of Gascón and Boudin as an indication that voters want progressive-minded law enforcement officials.

“There will always be a public political debate about it,” said Hollins, “but when we look at where folks have placed their priorities in terms of what they want to see around public safety, AG Bonta and others like him are on the right track.”

Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, a progressive who was on Newsom’s short list for the attorney general nomination, said he believes California voters have a strong desire to see “smart and balanced” criminal justice reform that will be reflected during the election, but cautioned that there’s “very little appetite for a radical dismantling of the criminal justice system.”

“It’s not defunding police, it’s not tearing down the jail, it’s not closing all the prisons,” he continued. “I think [voters] are looking for solutions that keep them and their families safe, and that reduce crime in a humane and effective way.”

Law enforcement groups are taking a cautious approach for now, wary of antagonizing the state’s new top prosecutor before he takes office. San Francisco Police Officers Association head Tony Montoya said Bonta’s record would put him to the left of any prior California attorney general, but Montoya said he remains optimistic they can find common ground as long as Bonta acts “based on the law and the facts” and “with the least amount of politics involved.”

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, who heads the California District Attorneys Association, argued Bonta will come to power at a critical moment for public safety, pointing to a “staggering” surge in homicides in Los Angeles and criticizing Gascon’s “reckless” policies.

“It’s a big responsibility, and we’re really hoping he’s a serious attorney general that will recognize some of those serious problems we’re facing,” Pierson said. “In Los Angeles, and to a lesser extent in San Francisco people don’t feel safe.”



100 days to save the world




🍦 Scoop!

🏰 Where the leaders are staying: Joe Biden at Tregenna Castle, the others at Carbis Bay Estate (Biden is using his lodge there only as a workspace).

🍿 No Biden-Putin joint press conference next Wednesday? What’s Vlad afraid of, we wonder?

Let’s get into it.

G-7 leaders want a vaccine ready within 100 days of the next pandemic — is their plan credible?

Sue Allan, Canada editor:

Not sure how the first day in the 100 Days Mission would be decided, but it got me thinking: The WHO was tipped to a puzzling virus at the end of December 2019. About 100 days more takes us to that Good Friday press briefing where Donald Trump projected deaths to Covid in the U.S. would be “substantially under” 100,000 people. (To date, 600,000 Americans have died.) Boris Johnson was fresh out of ICU. And here in Canada, the PM was encouraging Canadian families to enjoy Easter weekend on FaceTime. At the time 500 Canadians had died, a number now closing in on 26,000. This sounds like a word problem, but maybe serves as a reminder of all that can happen in 100 days.

Ryan Heath, Global Translations author:

Nearly anything’s credible if it has political will behind it. Moderna’s mRNA vaccine was basically ready to go on January 13, 2020 — a year before it was actually deployed, so there’s room for improvement in trial and approval processes. The leaders also want a Global Pandemic Radar to quickly detect new pandemic risks. These steps have as much, or more, promise than the global pandemic treaty the EU is proposing. While a treaty probably should happen, it would be unenforceable in real time when it matters, so it can only ever be a guardrail. A public expectation of a 100-day vaccine: that’s harder for leaders to ignore.

Anita Kumar, White House correspondent & Associate Editor:

Back in the U.S., Biden has showed Americans that he knows how to meet deadlines when it comes to Covid. There clearly does seem to be some lessons learned on Covid. But some public health officials (and some critics) have argued that Biden is meeting all his goals only because he’s setting the bar too low. This doesn’t seem like that.

How are we feeling about the Build Back Better World plan?

Esther Webber, senior U.K. correspondent:

Ever so slightly nauseous. It’s been Boris Johnson’s slogan for domestic recovery from the pandemic for the past year and I have “build back better” fatigue.

Kumar: Esther, I have “build back better” fatigue too! That’s actually Biden’s campaign slogan and it’s now used on signs and by his aides every single day. And here I thought Biden and Johnson were so different…

Karl Mathiesen, senior climate correspondent:

Say hello to climate-friendly infrastructure: the West’s answer to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has been criticized for its support of carbon-heavy developments and leaving countries stuck in debt. The key word here is “better.” The partners are betting the developing world will prefer to take money from them than Beijing because of something called “values.”

Anna Issac, trade and economics and correspondent:

But there was no announcement of new money to rival the hundreds of billions China has spent around the world. Apparently Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn’t ask for any from the U.K. Treasury, “because they knew the answer would be no,” a Treasury official said.

Heath: A bit like the vaccine donation plan, it’s an essential contribution for democracies to improve their competitive position vis-a-vis authoritarian regimes. If that sounds brutal and transactional, well, that’s what geopolitics is. Just as Biden says that democracies need to show they deliver for their own citizens, in a world where China invests massively in buying access and influence, democracies need to be able to say to countries around the world: “We’re the team to be on, life is better with us and here’s the proof.” Biden and Johnson led the charge on this, but the others are clearly on-board. It will take more than a declaration to catch-up to China though, so the money needs to flow: pronto!

Jakob Hanke, trade correspondent

: The G-7’s share of the world economy is shrinking — but they are still the world’s most advanced economies, and they have a lot to offer to the rest of the world. The best Covid vaccines were developed in G-7 countries — just look at reports on how China’s vaccine efficacy might be as low as 50 percent. Europe and America are also still the biggest investors in Africa. But Beijing has aggressively promoted its Belt and Road infrastructure plan. So part of the G-7’s goal is to come up with a similar offer to finance big infrastructure investments in developing countries.

Anyone getting whiplash today? The bilateral leader meetings see-sawed — some were love-ins, others were snark-fests.

Allan: Observers hoping for bromance or even a bilateral between Trudeau and Biden have so far been disappointed. Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to London, advised reporters Friday that there were no plans for an official sit down because the PM and the president talk regularly. “They don’t have to come to Europe to do that.”

But in a pull-aside on Saturday morning, Trudeau and Biden discussed China and ongoing efforts to secure the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, Canadians who have been jailed in China since December 2018. A Trudeau spokesperson tells POLITICO they discussed plans to reopen the Canada-U.S. border, “cautiously and gradually.”

Andy Blatchford, Canada correspondent:

Speaking of Canada and China, a senior Canadian official tells us that Johnson invited Trudeau to lead the group’s discussion on its approach to Beijing given Ottawa’s experience dealing with the sensitive cases of Kovrig and Spavor.


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Heath: Who follows politics and doesn’t have whiplash these days? I think the leaders have pretty good shock absorbers — they are where they are because they know how to handle gamesmanship. I’m surprised the Brits let the Brexit fight get this out-of-control, however. You can’t be Global Britain if all you do is have backward-looking fights about Brexit Britain.

David Herszenhorn, chief Brussels correspondent:

Three was a crowd at the trilateral meeting between Boris Johnson and the two EU presidents. An EU official said that their tense meeting was focused “entirely” on the implementation of the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol. David Frost, the British minister in charge of relations with the EU, wore loud Union Jack socks to the meeting — and EU officials got the message. “That was a bit weird,” one senior EU official said. “As if we didn’t know he came from the UK. Thanks for reminding us.”

Kumar: No snarkfests with Biden (yet). Quite the opposite. The leaders are heaping praise on him, at least publicly, even Johnson. But maybe it’s just because he’s not Trump? Just look at what Macron said after the two men met earlier Saturday: “We have to deal with this pandemic, Covid-19 … climate change. For all these issues what we need is cooperation. And I think it’s great to have a U.S. president part of the club, and very willing to cooperate. And I think that what you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership.”

What aren’t the leaders talking about that they should be talking about?

Mathiesen: Climate will be big tomorrow. EU leaders want their G-7 allies to join them in imposing trade barriers on climate laggards — but Japan and the U.S. aren’t so sure. All know they need to address the risk of industries fleeing to countries with weaker regulation, and the EU will push the issue — Brussels is expected to roll out in July a carbon border tariff — even though U.S. climate envoy John Kerry has asked them to back off. Japanese government spokesman Tomoyuki Yoshida said the EU’s plans to tax carbon imports were “one of the quite controversial, heated discussions among the concerned parties.”

Isaac: One of the global economic system’s key umpires, the World Trade Organization, could fail if G-7 leaders don’t start turning words into action at this week’s summit, top businesses fear. This B-7 group of leaders think the WTO is drinking at the “last chance saloon,” Karan Bilimoria, president of the Confederation of British Industry, told me. WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is pressing the case for reform via video from Geneva.

Hanke: Don’t mention patent protections on vaccines! Biden and Macron are in favor of waiving intellectual property protections to allow countries such as India and South Africa to copy coronavirus vaccines, but Johnson and Merkel are still strictly opposed — which means the G-7 is unlikely to back the idea of an IP waiver.

Webber: Aid. Boris Johnson is under huge domestic pressure to reverse a recent cut in the overseas development budget, and his critics had hoped that would be replicated on the international stage. But the PM’s spokesman told reporters this morning it had not been raised in any bilateral talks, and Downing Street must be breathing a small sigh of relief. Perhaps Biden and EU leaders decided sausage wars (as the current row over post-Brexit trade arrangements is now called) was enough beef for one weekend.

Mathiesen: One more climate thought. The U.K. hosts are desperate for this G-7 and their COP26 U.N. conference this November to kill coal power for good. But after days of talks, an agreement on how fast they should phase out coal is eluding the leaders of the most advanced and wealthy nations on Earth. If they can’t do this, how do they expect the rest of the world to?

Special guest correspondents share their thoughts…

😂 Queen of Lols: “Are you supposed to be looking as though you’ve been enjoying yourselves?” Elizabeth II asked grim-faced leaders as they assembled for a family photo.

✨ FLOTUS: “So, I’m Jill, nice to meet you.”

🧯🔥 Boris Johnson: “I’ve talked to some of our friends here today who do seem to misunderstand that the U.K. is a single country and a single territory. I think they just need to get that into their heads,” the British P.M. unsubtly told fellow leaders to do their homework before offering Brexit opinions.

🆘 Cyril Ramaphosa: “We need vaccines now” the South African president said — failing to mention he refused to use most of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses South Africa received earlier in 2021.

💯 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: “It’s clear that going forward as part of preparing for the next pandemic, we must decentralize production,” of vaccines and other medical supplies, the WTO chief urged.

💘 Emmanuel Macron: “What you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership,” to President Biden.

We’ll be back tomorrow morning, with a report on the sea-shanty singing at tonight’s BBQ dinner, a preview of the final session of the G-7, and the inside word on President Biden’s audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, set for Sunday afternoon.

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Nevada meltdown gives Iowa hope of saving first-in-the-nation fame




The chair of the Nevada Democratic Party, Judith Whitmer, blasted the move as an “insurgency within our own party.”

Watching the Nevada fireworks explode from halfway across the country, Iowa Democrats glimpsed a flicker of hope. As the national party considers the 2024 calendar, Iowa — in comparison to Nevada — might not look so bad anymore. And that might assist their efforts to save their cherished place in the early state pecking order.

“Putting on one of these is a mammoth undertaking,” said Dave Nagle, a former congressman and former Iowa state Democratic Party chair. “And you can’t have the organizers in open warfare with each other.”

He said, “That’s never happened in our state.”

Or as Scott Brennan, an Iowa DNC member and a former state party chair, put it, “Their internal issues certainly create challenges that make it hard to see them moving forward successfully.”

Nevada’s bid for an earlier nominating contest was never grounded in the cohesiveness of the state party. Rather, it was a response to widespread complaints within the Democratic Party about the lack of diversity in Iowa and New Hampshire, two heavily white states. The technological issues that marred the Iowa caucuses last year — so severe the Associated Press was never able to call a winner — only added to Democrats’ complaints about the state.

But Democrats in Nevada are making a run on Iowa in terms of dysfunction.

This week, leaders of the Democratic Party in Washoe County, which includes Reno, moved to undercut the state party ahead of the midterm elections, voting to run the state’s 2022 coordinated campaign out of the county instead. The extraordinary move — which included statements of support from Sisolak, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Democratic state lawmakers, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association — came after a slate of Bernie Sanders allies endorsed by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America won control of the state party, a blow to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s vaunted organizing machine in the swing state.

Whitmer called the uprising “ill-advised and undemocratic.”

Even in the fractious world of state party politics, that’s an uncommon level of animosity to put on display — especially with Democratic National Committee members who will decide the nominating calendar as early as next year all watching.

And that’s just the Democrats.

Nevada Republicans may be in even worse shape, with state and local party officials in Las Vegas feuding over a faction of pro-Trump activists, including some with ties to the Proud Boys, trying to take over the local party in Las Vegas’ Clark County. And Republicans don’t even want to change the traditional nominating calendar at all.

Earlier this week, the state Republican Party chairs in all four early nominating states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — issued a statement calling for the existing calendar to be preserved.

“I think if Nevada can’t get its s–t together, that disqualifies them,” said Michael Ceraso, a Democratic strategist who organized fundraisers for Jaime Harrison, now the DNC chair, during his unsuccessful South Carolina Senate campaign last year. “If a state can’t work together, how are they going to operate a primary?”


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At an event in Las Vegas on Friday, Sisolak signed legislation changing Nevada’s caucus system to a presidential primary and moving the contest to the first Tuesday in February, ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire. A cheer went up when Sisolak said Nevada was claiming “the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.”

Nevada — or some other state — may still unseat Iowa. The effort in Nevada has been championed by Reid, who remains influential in national party politics. Regardless of the contretemps within the state party, one prominent Democratic Party official said, “Harry Reid is still Harry Reid.”

Reid said Friday in an interview that infighting in the state party is “exaggerated,” and “the mere fact that somebody took over the state party, it happens all the time.”

“Nevada’s that kind of a state,” he said. “I’ve been to state party meetings where fist fights broke out, so we’re used to a little intrigue.”

Reid said he doubted the DNC would penalize Nevada for any of its internal machinations as it considers the 2024 calendar. In addition, the state — not political parties — will run the primary, relying less on the organizational strength of any party apparatus. Molly Forgey, a former state party staffer who now serves as spokesperson for the coordinated campaign run through Washoe County, said “the reasons we’ve expressed why we deserve to be first still remain,” including the state’s diversity and geographic foothold in the West.

Even Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said Friday that “whatever internally is happening in any state party, I don’t think has a significant influence” on how the calendar is set. He said he’s confident New Hampshire will “retain our historic spot.”

His confidence is based on years of successfully defending the state’s privileged position. New Hampshire and Iowa have long fought off efforts by other states to leapfrog them. New Hampshire’s secretary of state, Bill Gardner, has said he will follow a state law that requires New Hampshire to hold its primary at least seven days before any “similar election” in another state. And Nagle said that, if necessary, Iowa will hold its caucuses ahead of the 2024 election “in July of 2023 if we have to.”

For Iowans hoping to stave off another challenge to their first-in-the-nation status, the meltdown in Nevada is not a panacea. But even if it raises just a small level of doubt about Nevada in national Democrats’ minds, it could prove helpful to Iowa’s cause.

Asked if the infighting might affect Nevada’s bid to move forward in the process, Jeff Link, an Iowa-based Democratic consultant, said, “Sure. Everything must align to make a big change.”

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Opinion | The Republican Case for Federal LGBT Rights




For the national Republican Party, this issue gives us the chance to do some good, win back millions of voters we’ve alienated, and move on to other important areas where we still have the moral high ground.

Some Republican operatives think they’re better off continuing to fight on this front of the culture war, and plenty of Democratic operatives think the same. The partisan vote in the House reflects an unwillingness—on both sides—to negotiate. But gay and trans rights are no longer the wedge issue they were in the early aughts. Times have changed, and Republicans’ best bet now is to reach a negotiated peace with the other side.

Democrats know the current version of the Equality Act could never pass in the Senate in its current form. And it might seem that in the current environment, common ground is out of reach. But senators of both parties have no chance of portraying themselves as reasonable unless they make a good-faith effort to reach a deal. Democrats cannot clear this hurdle unless they deal fairly with Republicans like Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, as well as conservative Democrat Joe Manchin. As for Republicans, they need to be willing to back an alternative rather than just saying “no.”

For religious conservatives, and by extension the Republicans who represent many of them, the problem with the current bill is that it appears to threaten their religious freedom and fails to adequately grapple with First Amendment concerns. They cannot support legislation that would imperil their operations, including the vital social services they provide in underserved communities around the country.

Several states have enacted laws similar to the Equality Act in recent years, but always with religious liberty protections. For instance, Rhode Island has a robust anti-discrimination law with reasonable protections for religious groups. These protections ensure that Catholic Social Services—and any other religious groups—can continue to provide valuable services in the state.

Similarly, Utah’s success in passing anti-discrimination legislation offers a path forward. Although its state government is controlled by Republicans at every level, Utah has some of the strongest protections for gay and trans people in the nation. In 2015, with the support of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and state LGBTQ leaders, Utah’s Republican legislature passed a comprehensive non-discrimination bill with reasonable protections for religious organizations.

I worked on the campaign to pass it, and found that Republicans were far more open to gay rights if a bill simply respected these protections, and Democrats were able to get behind it as well. It was a fair outcome that both sides liked. As a result, the law has enjoyed widespread support among the public. The people of Utah are tied with Vermont for the second-highest rates of support for LGBTQ non-discrimination protections.


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In Congress, instead of working toward such a deal, many Democrats grandstand and posture, insisting—wrongly—that they can pass the Equality Act as currently written. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, for instance, has never complained about the religious exemptions in his own state’s anti-discrimination laws, yet for some reason he draws a line in the sand at the federal level, denouncing any effort to provide similar exemptions in the Equality Act. Meanwhile, most Republicans complain about these missing provisions without offering their support for a bill that included such guarantees.

Utah should serve as a blueprint for both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. The Fairness for All Act, an alternative version of the Equality Act, draws from the popular Utah law. Senate Republicans should introduce this bill and use its language to amend the Equality Act.

Support by Republican lawmakers for these types of changes would deliver a broader win to religious conservatives as well: Perhaps surprisingly, the best and possibly only way to achieve robust religious-freedom protections nationwide is by agreeing to LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, codifying an expansion of civil rights for religion alongside protections for sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

This move would also help Republicans gain back some of the ground they lost with voters over the past several years. Public opinion polling shows that support for LGBTQ civil rights continues to climb, particularly in more educated, suburban districts.

With public support at sky-high levels, a version of the Equality Act will pass eventually. The question is: Which version? And will Republicans take the opportunity to shape it?

Religious conservatives should seize this chance now to influence the process before the culture shifts even more decidedly against them on LGBTQ issues. By making peace on this issue, religious conservatives could get the legal protections they want while also showing themselves to be decent and reasonable people—winning them political goodwill for any future disagreements that might emerge, and allowing lawmakers to move on to pressing issues like the crushing federal debt, defeating coronavirus, unaccompanied minors at the border, human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party, crumbling infrastructure and energy independence.

Responsible legislation is within reach, but you can’t win if you don’t play. Reaching a settlement on these issues is better for people of faith, better for LGBTQ people, and better for the country. Republicans should sit down with Democrats and insist on a deal that works for both sides. Common ground is possible.

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