Here Are The Lawmakers Fighting Trump’s Transgender Ban

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Democratic and Republican members of Congress introduced a bill Friday to block the Pentagon from removing active-duty transgender troops.

Republican Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida joined Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier of California, Susan Davis of California, Adam Smith of Washington, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in introducing the House companion bill to Senate bill S. 1820, that blocks the Department of Defense (DOD) from removing transgender troops based on gender identity.

“Kicking out members of the United States Armed Services solely based on their gender identity is hateful, discriminatory, and on the wrong side of history,” Speier said in a statement Friday. “News flash, Mr. President – thousands of transgender troops already serve our country with pride and dignity. Our military should be focused on recruiting and retaining the best troops, not on rejecting qualified service members on the basis of discrimination.”

The Trump administration’s attempt to prevent transgender individuals from serving openly in the military is a “sad reminder of the dark chapters in our nation’s history,” Ros-Lehtinen stated.

“Congress’ intention with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was to allow our brave service members to openly serve in our armed forces without fear of being discriminated against,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The decision by the Administration to not allow transgender individuals to serve in the military is a sad reminder of the dark chapters in our nation’s history that should never be repeated. The courts have usually been forced to adjudicate what constitutes discrimination but once again Congress is saying: no more.”

The legislation would prevent the DOD from kicking out or denying the re-enlistment of transgender troops solely based on gender identity. The bill would also mandate that Secretary of Defense James Mattis complete a full review of policy on transgender recruits and send those findings to members of Congress by the end of 2017.

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), a pro-LGBT group, applauded the bill’s introduction as a step in the right direction.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Former President Barack Obama’s administration repealed the ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military in June 2016. Following the repeal of the ban, the Pentagon set a date of one year to fully implement its policy, but on July 26, Trump tweeted out he would not be allowing transgender service members in the military, citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Trump issued a memo in August to Mattis, giving him a deadline of February 2018 to implement the ban.

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