Chuck Winder Kills Obscenity, Gender Reassignment Bills
Drag Queen Story Hour at Posman's Books in Atlanta
Chuck Winder’s Senate has become a graveyard for conservative legislation.
The Vulnerable Child Protection Act would have banned puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgeries for children under 18. It won an overwhelming majority in Idaho's House of Representatives. Another bill, sponsored by Gayann Demordaunt (R-Eagle), would have closed a loophole shielding teachers and librarians from prosecution when they peddle obscenity to children. This bill passed the House with a 51-14 majority.
Both bills died in Idaho’s Senate. Idaho’s Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder (R-Meridian) called these bills “mischief” and “craziness.” He sent both to the State Affairs committee “for good reason,” as he said. In that committee, Sen. Patty Ann Lodge, a Winder loyalist, kept both bills “in drawers,” as Winder implied she would. Neither bill even got a hearing. Neither bill got a vote.
For killing both bills, Winder won praise from Democratic leaders. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) praised Winder’s leadership. She hoped that Idaho would not “show so much hate and anger in our legislation” with such bills. In an interview with the Idaho Capital Sun, a far-left news outlet, Democratic House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), thanked Winder “for saying the bills were likely to die, saying it was music to her ears.”
Winder also attacked conservative groups for deigning to support such legislation, again echoing Democratic talking points. Winder focused his public ire on the Idaho Family Policy Center (IFPC), a small think tank dedicated to promoting pro-family legislation in Idaho. IFPC has one employee and a $200,000 annual budget, according to records.
IFPC, Winder implied, is one of the “ultra-conservative groups” representing “far right” ideas like stopping porn from circulating to children in our public or school libraries.
Against IFPC were arrayed deep-pocketed establishment interests. According to Blaine Conzatti, Director of the IFPC, Idaho Library Association, Idaho School Boards Association (among many others) lobbied to keep public employees free to peddle obscene materials to children. Idaho Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU, among others, lobbied to allow gender reassignment surgeries to impressionable children.
Opponents of both bills tried to kill them with misinformation. At first, interest groups and Democrats, working through their media megaphones, tried to deny that kids could access obscene materials in libraries. Idaho Library Association then organized a letter campaign. Letters to the state legislature have been acquired through public records requests. In these letters, librarians from across the state asserted that this was an “unethical law.” Others asserted that the “library community” stands against those who would let “the First Amendment be torched by puritanical mobs.” Especially strident and dishonest was a director of Bonner County Library. In an email sent to all senators, she stated that her library does not believe “it is appropriate to meddle in the individual affairs of any family” through providing such materials to families, without their supervision.
The librarians played the normal two-step denial: First they denied that anything was happening, then they celebrated what was happening as good in itself.
Chuck Winder is dancing the same two-step. Sometimes he denies that there is a problem, but he mostly adheres to the line that we should always trust our public institutions to do the right thing, as if they could never be captured by corrupting, leftish forces. Sadly, Wiinder seems to be transitioning himself from a conservative early in his career to an establishment politician as he sits longer in office. His American Conservative Rating in 2015 was over 90%, but it has plummeted to under 50% in recent years. 2021 ratings saw him hovering just above 60%. Winder increasingly attacks and undermines conservatives while appeasing Idaho’s liberals.
Serving in leadership seems to be alienating him from his district's voters. Time will tell whether it costs him his seat.