Are social issues finally going away? Good!

I read this report on how people in the conservative South are turning away from the culture wars and focusing on more practical issues in their respective legislatures, and I'm pleased as punch.

ATLANTA — With elections looming and major corporations watching, the social issues that have provoked bitter fights in recent years across the conservative South — including restroom access for transgender people and so-called religious freedom measures — are gaining little legislative momentum in statehouses this year.

Democratic and Republican officials, advocacy groups and researchers say that other, less contentious subjects are taking center stage, while fewer new hot-button social bills are being introduced and pending ones are languishing.

A combination of fear, fatigue and legislative mathematics appear to be behind the shift. Many people believe that states have grown wary of provoking a pronounced corporate backlash like the one North Carolina experienced in 2016. Others sense little appetite among lawmakers for another year of battles over divisive social issues, noting that few of the faces in the legislatures have changed since the previous conflagrations.

“I do think there’s a recognition that we’ve got some really big things to do,” said Greg Snowden, a Republican state representative in Mississippi who serves as speaker pro tempore. “You can’t go to war on everything all the time.”

This may only be temporary relief, mind you, but whatever, I'll take it. But not for the reasons you think.

Social issues and the culture wars are not something we should be fighting at the legislative level, beyond a certain level of basic human rights legislation. Laws telling people who they can or can't marry, and what bathrooms to use, have no place on the books. These issues are social and cultural, and the place to debate them and agitate about them is within the larger society and culture.

It was Bernard Nathanson (the ex-abortion doctor turned pro-life advocate) who said something to the effect that if the prevalent culture in your society is pro-life, you don't need a law banning abortion but that if it's not, you can't pass one. He made a powerful film that has changed a lot of minds about abortion. That's how you do it.

Social and cultural issues belong in society and culture. Work there - try to change the hearts and minds around you, with love and respect for everyone. That's your best hope.

Political priorities from our citizen panel

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