Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican Sen. Susan Collins introduced a defense bill amendment Monday to block President Donald Trump’s transgender ban.
The amendment would “express a sense of Congress” that anyone who is qualified and can pass standards should be allowed to serve, echoing the same logic used by the Obama administration. The proposal to the National Defense Authorization Act would also block the Pentagon from “involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of, currently serving transgender service member,” insofar as they are targeted solely based on gender identity.
Further, the proposal mandates that Secretary of Defense James Mattis continue with a report on transgender recruits and release the findings to Congress.
“Any individual who wants to join our military and meets the standards should be allowed to serve, period. Gender identity should have nothing to do with it,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “I am proud to work with Senator Collins to introduce our bipartisan amendment to protect transgender members of our Armed Forces, and I will always fight for our brave transgender troops who put their lives on the line to protect our country.”
Following the introduction of the amendment, the American Military Partner association, a pro-LGBT organization, praised the amendment as a counter to Trump’s “unpatriotic attack.”
“President Trump’s unconscionable assault on the brave transgender men and women who serve our nation must be stopped,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said. “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.”
The Obama administration openly allowed transgenders to serve in June 2016 and began developing plans to fully integrate and accept new transgender recruits within a year’s time. However, Trump stepped in and announced an end to this Obama-era policy first on Twitter and then later enshrined via memo to Mattis.
Unlike Gillibrand and Collins, Trump believes his decision is a “great favor” to the military, citing key problems like “disruption” and “tremendous medical costs” entailed by recruiting transgenders and allowing them to openly serve.
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