Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military families, hailed Senators Collins’ and Gillibrand’s introduction of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit the Department of Defense from removing qualified transgender service members from the military due to President Trump’s transgender military ban.
“President Trump’s unconscionable assault on the brave transgender men and women who serve our nation must be stopped,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Trump’s transgender military ban harms more than just the service member — it impacts his or her entire military family. Any qualified American who is willing to serve should be allowed to do so, regardless of their gender identity. We are thankful for Senators Collins’ and Gillibrand’s leadership in working to stop President Trump’s unpatriotic attack on thousands of our military families, and we urge the Senate to pass this critically important amendment.”
Senators Collins’ and Gillibrand’s amendment would:
- Express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve;
- Prohibit DOD from involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of, currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the member’s gender identity; and
- Require Secretary Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress.
In June 2016, the Department of Defense began allowing transgender members of the armed forces to serve openly and authentically. Estimates show there are thousands of transgender individuals currently serving in the military. Implementation of the open service policy involved more than a year of planning. President Trump tweeted he was reversing this policy, and in August, sent a memo to Secretary Mattis ordering him to implement a ban.
The people motivating this purge of transgender service members are the same people who have opposed LGBT equality in every corner of American life. Their end goal is to deny the reality that LGBT people exist by forcing them out of any place where they might be visible, and there is nothing that better communicates the commitment of LGBT people to American values than openly serving in the military.
The far majority of Americans believe transgender people should be allowed to serve, and the bipartisan outrage over the President’s ban has been swift and severe. 56 retired generals and admirals warned that the ban would degrade military readiness. More than 50 House Armed Services, Judiciary, and LGBT Equality Caucus Democrats urgedSecretary Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff not to comply with an unconstitutional ban. And 45 Senators sent a letter to Secretary Mattis urging him to refrain from discharging transgender service members until the DoD concludes a review.
Military commanders have already gone on the record as being opposed to President Trump’s move. CNN has reported that Secretary Mattis worked against efforts to impose this policy via the National Defense Authorization Act. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Joseph Dunford, issued a public statement that indicated policy would not be implemented on the basis of tweets. And the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft, made a point to indicate that he would stand by transgender service members. None of these public statements are likely to have been made if the Pentagon supported the President’s position.