Donald Trump is on to something—he wants “extreme vetting” of immigrants to ensure that they agree with American values on issues like religious freedom, gender equality and gay rights. As Trump bluntly put it in his big foreign policy speech Monday, “Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.”
But why focus on immigrants? Why not follow Trump’s mantra of “America First” and apply this test to American citizens? Yes, if you were born here, you had the luck of the draw. Which is a lucky thing for Trump, because if the test could be applied to natural-born citizens, the result would be that over half of the Republican Party—and most of Trump’s voters—would be banned from the United States.
It’s irony defined to hear the GOP Presidential nominee complain about discrimination against gays, the lack of equality for women and the need for religious liberty for all. Republicans have done everything possible to enact laws to enable discrimination against the LGBT community, from so-called “religious liberty” legislation to the past championing state constitutional amendments barring marriage equality. They have fought equal-pay measures and sought to oppress women. And they have trampled on religious liberty for Muslim Americans.
Why don’t we take a look at the views of the rank and file Republicans on the key issues Trump demanded that any immigrant seeking to enter America must be vetted on?:
1. Gay Rights. If you don’t support marriage equality you are not adhering to American values as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. It’s that simple. And that’s not just my view but also the U.S. Supreme Court’s, from the seminal case last year recognizing marriage equality as the law of the land. There the Court wrote about same-sex couples: “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Well, where does the GOP stand on this right? A May Pew Poll found only 33 percent of Republicans believe that gay couples should have rights equal to their heterosexual counterparts. (In contrast, almost 80 percent of progressives support it.) And people like Ted Cruz have gone as far as to exclaim that LGBT activists who were simply seeking equal rights were waging a “jihad” against people of faith.
That means bye-bye to over 60 percent of the Republican Party, including Trump’s vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, because they have not embraced American values of marriage equality.
2. Gender equality. Keep in mind that current Republican congressional Rep. Jody Hice said that a woman should run for political office only if her husband consents to it since husbands have “authority” over their wives. Before you dismiss Hice’s views as being an exception, he easily won his election in 2014 and was vocally supported by well known conservative Erick Erickson.
What about on key gender-equality issues? Regarding a women’s right to control her own body, 59 percent of Republicans believe that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. And on equal pay for women, only 14 percent of Republicans support legislation to close the gender pay gap where women are being paid on average 79 cents for every dollar their male counterparts receive. (And that number is far worse when the comparison is white men versus women of color.)
Bottom line: Gender equality and the Republican rank and file don’t go together. That flies in the face of the Equal Protection Clause of our Constitution and again means that under Trump’s own test they shouldn’t be in America.
3. Religious liberty. Simply put, every American should have the same right to worship regardless of their faith. But polls show that Republicans tend to support that concept only if it involves Christianity, not Islam. For example, a December 2015 poll found 88 percent of Republicans support religious liberty when it comes to Christianity. But the same poll found almost a third fewer Republicans support religious liberty for Muslims in America.
Even more shocking is that a recent poll found that 40 percent of Republicans in North Carolina want to statutorily ban Islam, meaning it would be a crime to practice the faith there. And we have seen countless instances across the nation by Republicans to stop the building of local mosques.
Looks like Trump’s “extreme vetting” would end up keeping out a huge chunk of Republicans. They simply don’t subscribe to American values on key issues such as gay rights, gender equality and religious liberty.
As Trump declared Monday, “We have to promote the exceptional virtues of our own way of life—and expecting that newcomers to our society do the same.” Well, I say why don’t we start with America first and ensure that Republicans subscribe to those “exceptional virtues”? I think most Americans would agree that it’s time to fix the problems right here at home first before focusing to issues beyond our borders.