Metro Weekly

Groups organizing campaign against Trump’s Army Secretary nominee

Mark Green's comments on LGBTQ issues, Muslims, Latinos, and women have stoked controversy

Tennessee State Sen. Mark Green – Photo: Facebook.

LGBTQ advocates smell blood in the water and they’re determined to finish off Mark Green, Trump’s pick to serve as the nation’s next Secretary of the Army.

According to CNN, Green’s nomination is in serious peril, with politicians on both sides of the aisle expressing concern over his past comments on LGBTQ issues, Islam, and evolution.

Recently, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Armed Services committee that will consider Green’s nomination, said that Green will have to explain his comments when he appears before the committee for his confirmation hearings this week.

CNN’s sources claim that Green may end up withdrawing his nomination, but Darren Morris, a political adviser to the Tennessee state senator, says those claims are “completely, absolutely untrue.”

If Green were to withdraw his nomination, he’d be the third military service secretary to do so after being tapped by Trump. Trump’s previous Army Secretary nominee Vincent Viola and Navy Secretary nominee Philip Bilden both withdrew over challenges relating to divesting themselves from financial holdings that could have caused conflicts of interest.

LGBTQ advocates have decided to give Green a little bit of a push, in the hope that he will eventually fail to receive the 51 votes needed for confirmation. The Human Rights Campaign is mounting a campaign to have people call their senators and express their opposition to Green, mirroring past efforts to derail the nomination of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In an email sent to supporters, HRC urged recipients of the email to text “REJECT GREEN” to a number that will connect them to the offices of their U.S. senators, who they can then attempt to persuade into denying Green the necessary votes.

“Our Army represents the best of America. Our forces are a diverse group, fighting together towards a common objective. Mark Green’s confirmation will undermine that objective, and will undermine the readiness of our military,” HRC said in its email.

“We’ve made incredible progress towards achieving equality in our Armed Forces, and that’s helped our military recruit and retain the best and brightest. But Green’s radical and extreme views about LGBTQ people are wildly out of step with today’s Army and contrary to the military’s core values.”

Among the chief objections to Green are his support for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, characterizing being transgender as a “disease,” and his support of laws that allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.

Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, which promotes and studies LGBTQ inclusion in the military, issued a statement slamming Green for his record of anti-LGBT statements and votes as a state senator. Belkin also warned of the consequences for the armed forces, and LGBTQ service members in particular, should Green attempt to force culturally conservative changes onto the military.

“Mark Green is a perfect nominee for the people around President Trump who want to start a culture war in the United States military, and would would bring back ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” Belkin said in a statement. “The priorities Green has made a career on in Tennessee directly contradict the core military value of treating everyone according to the same standard. They have the potential of sowing confusion and undermining good order and discipline.”

Green’s nomination is also opposed by 22 current and former faculty members at service academies, war colleges, and military universities, who object not only to his hostility toward the LGBTQ community, but past statements demeaning Latinos, women and Muslims. The faculty members have released a statement calling his appointment a “serious threat” to the military’s core values and ability to recruit the best talent.

“All who wear the uniform and risk their lives to defend our freedom deserve the respect and dignity they have earned, including LGBT members, Latinos, women and religious minorities, but Green has a history of creating exceptions for those who don’t want to treat others equally and respectfully,” the statement reads. “We cannot afford leaders whose priorities are inconsistent with military values. Mark Green is a serious threat to what makes our military great.”

Congressional Democrats, led by U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), have written a letter to McCain and Senate Armed Services Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), expressing their concerns about Green and asking the senators to halt Green’s nomination in committee.

“LGBT soldiers are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to protect our rights and freedoms,” the letter reads. “It would be deeply disrespectful to their service to appoint a Secretary of the Army whose history of homophobia and transphobia makes it clear that he is not willing to do the same for them.”

But House Republicans have come to Green’s defense, arguing in a letter to Senate Republican leadership that he is eminently qualified and will uphold the military’s values and traditions. Their decision to send the letter to McCain (ignoring Reed entirely) and to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell underscores the reality of the political situation facing Green.

Much like DeVos, who came under fire for her anti-LGBTQ views and skepticism concerning the viability of public schools, Green is all but assured confirmation (with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote) so long as no more than two GOP senators break ranks. By sending the letter to McConnell, House Republicans are signaling that the key to ensuring Green’s confirmation may rely on behind-the-scenes arm-twisting and appeals to party unity, which McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn can enforce should Green’s nomination earn a vote of the full upper chamber.

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

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