Donald Trump is in most ways a bigot, including, in private if reports are to be believed, toward gay and lesbian people. But one paradox of his political career has been that even at the same time he campaigned on racism and restricted transgender rights, he tended to dial back the LGBTQ-bashing that had been such a staple of GOP rhetoric for the previous generation. By shifting the GOP ahead and closer to the country’s more accepting current consensus, Trump convinced a critical mass of northern working-class whites that he was not a holy roller (even while winking and nodding with the fundamentalists). This distinction from previous Republicans paid off with hundreds of thousands of votes.

If some of the changes he made to Republican party dogma appear to be permanent, a more welcoming tone toward the gay community is not among them. Since Trump left office, Republican politicians across the country have brought back anti-LGBTQ politics with brazen force. More often than anywhere else this animus has surfaced in education, but right-wing anti-LGBTQ sentiment is visible in policy areas stretching across the public sphere. Republicans are using this cynical tactic to exploit their base’s loathing of LGBTQ people and to attempt to land a blow with squeamish moderates — even though I doubt that that part of the strategy will work.