Today, the nation’s leading organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and their families — the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) and OutServe-SLDN — issued the following joint statement following comments made by President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, retired General James Mattis, during confirmation hearings this morning. General Mattis indicated he will not work to reverse the current policies that allow any qualified person to serve, including LGBT people.
“We are heartened by General Mattis’ stated commitment during his testimony not to reverse the profound progress we have made in ensuring LGBT service members and their families are able to serve our nation with pride,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn. “Because questions had been raised about his commitment on this front, uncertainty in the future had given our military families great cause for concern. His comments today give us hope for a working relationship between our organizations and the new Defense Department leadership. If confirmed, we look forward to working with General Mattis in supporting our nation’s brave heroes and their families. We are committed to holding the incoming administration accountable and ensuring all who serve, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have the support and respect they need and deserve.”
During his prepared testimony, General Mattis said, “We open the door to all patriots who are eligible and meet the standards, provide them with the training, equipment, and leadership that’s central to their success, and ensure all service members are treated with dignity and respect.”
When asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) about his support for LGBT service members currently serving our nation, General Mattis said, “Senator, my belief is that we have to stay focused on a military that’s so lethal that on the battlefield it will be the enemies’ longest day and their worst day when they run into that force. I believe that military service is a touchstone for patriots of whatever stripe. It’s simply the way that they demonstrate their commitment. And I believe right now that the policies that are in effect, unless a service chief brings something to me where there’s a problem that’s been proven, then I’m not going in with the idea that I’m going to review these and right away start rolling something back.” He went on to say, “Frankly, I’ve never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with.”
Later, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked him directly, “Is there something innate in being a woman or LGBT that would cause you to believe that they could not be part of a lethal force?” General Mattis replied with a simple, “no.”
Yesterday in a joint statement, AMPA and OutServe-SLDN called on General Mattis to make clear his full and unequivocal support for all of our nation’s heroes and their families, including those who are LGBT.