Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military families, praised members of Congress for introducing bipartisan legislation that would help protect transgender service members from being discharged because of President Trump’s unconscionable transgender military ban. The legislation was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Adam Smith (D-WA), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The Senate version was introduced in September by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jack Reed (D-RI).
“These members of Congress believe all service members, regardless of their gender identity, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect — not shamefully targeted for discrimination by their commander-in-chief,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “After being assured by the Defense Department that it was safe to come out, our transgender service members are now facing a great deal of uncertainty, and it’s compounding the strain on their families that already comes with military service. Instead of singling them out for blatant discrimination, President Trump should be praising transgender service members and their families for their selfless sacrifice and service to our nation. As the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military families, we are thankful for the support from these members of Congress who are demonstrating true leadership.”
In June 2016, the Department of Defense told transgender members of the armed forces it was safe to come out and serve openly and authentically, and 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.
Transgender service members had to wake up around the world to tweets from their new commander-in-chief shamefully declaring he was reversing the policy and kicking them out of the military. Then in August, President Trump sent a memo to Secretary Mattis ordering him to implement his policy change and giving him until February 21, 2018, to develop a plan to implement his ban. Secretary Mattis indicated in a statement that “(t)he department will carry out the president’s policy direction.”
The far majority of Americans disagree with the president and believe transgender people should be allowed to serve. There has been clear bipartisan outrage over the President’s attack, including from fifty-six retired generals and admirals who warned that the ban would degrade military readiness.
AMPA is an organizational plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s transgender military ban in court. Karnoski v. Trump is brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN on behalf of several transgender individuals, AMPA, the Human Rights Campaign, and Gender Justice League.