Metro Weekly

Walker “wouldn’t change” transgender military service ban

Wisconsin governor's stance on transgender service is almost identical to Mike Huckabee's

Photo: Scott Walker. Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr.
Photo: Scott Walker. Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr.

It might have been famed culture warrior Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) who attracted all the attention for his opposition to transgender soldiers in the military during last Thursday’s presidential debate, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has previously weighed in with a nearly identical position. 

Walker, one of 17 candidates seeking the 2016 Republican nomination for the presidency, sat down with Newsmax TV, a conservative media outlet on Aug. 5. In the course of the video interview, former Congressman and Newsmax host J.D. Hayworth quoted Jeb Bush saying he was “fine” with allowing transgender people to serve openly so long as it didn’t affect troop morale. Hayworth then asked Walker, “As commander in chief, what would be your position on transgender and gays and lesbians serving in our armed forces?”

“I wouldn’t change the policy,” Walker responded, before launching into a series of criticisms of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. “…When we see the challenges we face around the world, I think those of us who are talking about running for president need to focus on what we need to do to rebuild the military.

“Our goal is [for there] to be peace, but there will be times when America must fight. And I think it needs to be clear that Americans fight to win, and our men and women in the military need to have the resources to do that,” Walker added. “So as president I’m going to spend my time focused on those issues, not those others.”

While Walker has been courting social conservatives in his bid for the GOP nomination, he has been more circumspect when it comes to loudly advocating against LGBT causes in the media. Huckabee, by contrast, relishes his role as a socially conservative firebrand, using last Thursday’s debate to argue against lifting the current ban on transgender servicemembers. “The military is not a social experiment,” he said. “The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.”

The U.S. Department of Defense last month announced plans to begin easing the restrictions on transgender Americans serving in the military. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has promised to create a working group to study the policy and readiness implications of allowing transgender servicemembers to serve openly. He also directed that all administrative discharges for those servicemembers diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender to be taken away from unit commanders and placed in the hands of Under Secretary Brad Carson, who will make a final determination relating to a servicemember’s discharge. Several LGBT advocates and military partner organizations have argued for relaxing the ban on transgender service, and the American Medical Association in June approved a resolution saying that there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service.”

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