Metro Weekly

Log Cabin to Defense Department: Keep letting transgender troops serve

Log Cabin president says transgender service members' ability to serve must be evaluated on an individual basis

Gregory T. Angelo, Credit: Facebook

The Log Cabin Republicans is lending its voice to the chorus of those opposed to President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender service members.

On Tuesday, the organization sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis and Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, urging leaders at the Pentagon to continue allowing members of the Armed Forces who are already “out” as transgender to continue serving without fear of being forcibly discharged.

“As the nation’s premier organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies — many of whom have served honorably in the nation’s military and continue to do so — Log Cabin Republicans urges you to avail yourself of the authority provided to you in the recent presidential memorandum ‘Military Service by Transgender Individuals’ and respond with a recommendation allowing for continued service and accession by transgender individuals in the United States military,” Gregory T. Angelo, the president of Log Cabin Republicans, writes in the letter.

Angelo specifically takes issue with the contention — put forth by the president and some of his most ardent supporters — that allowing transgender troops to serve openly hurts military readiness and unit morale. 

“Transgender personnel should be viewed as individuals, not monolithically as a group,” writes Angelo. “Questions of military readiness can and should be considered of all potential accessions — regardless of gender identity — but disqualifying an entire cohort simply because of who they are raises serious constitutional questions and the specter of past discriminatory military policies that time has led our nation to regret.”

Pentagon officials estimate that about 250 service members have publicly come out as transgender since former Obama Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the prohibition on transgender troops. Carter also began the process of readying the military to begin accepting out transgender recruits beginning in July 2017. However, Mattis decided to delay that change by six months in order to allow the various service branches to further study the issue and address any complications that might affect military readiness.

Less than four weeks later, Trump announced via Twitter that he would be imposing an across-the-board ban on transgender troops, citing the high cost of providing such service members with transition-related health care and the “disruption” that their presence would create among tightly-knit units.

But Angelo says it would be a “blemish” upon both the military and the United States if transgender people willing to serve in an all-volunteer military were turned away simply because of their gender identity.

“Present and future transgender servicemembers should be viewed as patriotic Americans willing to serve and sacrifice to protect our freedom, evaluated on a case-by-case basis using the same standards applied to any other potential servicemember,” he writes.

“It is in this spirit that Log Cabin Republicans urges you to recommend that the White House reconsider its proposed guidance and return to a policy that allows for the continuance of open service for transgender Americans.”

In February, Angelo told Metro Weekly that the “LGBT left” were “conjuring demons where there are none” when rumors were swirling that Trump would start negatively impacting LGBTQ rights.

“Especially in regard to LGBT issues, Donald Trump has not taken any actions. Period,” Angelo said at the time. “Any reservations or fears that are being discussed on the LGBT left are entirely the result of their own conjuring of demons where there are none.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com