U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act aimed at halting Trump’s transgender military ban.
The amendment would prevent the Department of Defense from removing qualified service members from the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity.
It also expresses a sense of the Senate that individuals should be able to serve regardless of their gender identity, and requires Secretary of Defense James Mattis to continue with his review examining the impact of allowing already out transgender individuals to join the military, and report those findings to Congress.
Mattis had previously said that such a review would take place when he delayed by six months the deadline by which the various services were to begin accepting out transgender individuals who had been stable in their gender presentation for at least 18 months.
But that was halted after President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban all transgender individuals from serving in the military, under the guise that their presence hurts morale and the price tag that providing gender confirmation surgery to transgender troops would be cost-prohibitive.
“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 press release. “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.”
“Our Armed Forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” Collins added in a statement. “If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones, and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to exclude them from military service.”
Gillibrand and Collins were among a group of 45 senators who sent a letter to Mattis in July urging him to refrain from discharging transgender service members until an internal Defense Department review is complete.
Both women were also instrumental in pushing for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which allowed gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals to serve openly in the U.S. military.
The Palm Center, a think tank that has long advocated for allowing out LGBTQ people to serve openly in the U.S. military, praised the senators’ amendment, saying it would “prevent uncertainty and disruption” that could occur once Trump’s ban is implemented and would save money that would otherwise be wasted recruiting and training new troops to replace those transgender individuals who were forcibly discharged.
“Media reports have been characterized by misperceptions about what will happen next if Congress fails to take action,” Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin said in a statement. “Secretary Jim Mattis does not have discretion to ignore the President’s order to ban transgender troops and he has not frozen the process.
“Somewhat similar to his DACA directive, President Trump’s transgender policy calls for delayed implementation following a six-month window. The purpose of the delay is not to preserve inclusive policy, but to allow the Pentagon to determine how to transition from its current policy to a ban,” Belkin added. “By taking action to avoid that disruptive and wasteful scenario, Congress would promote military readiness and sustain the well-being of the troops.”
Virginia State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who made history as the first out transgender person elected to a state legislature in the country in 2017, announced on Monday that she will be running for an open seat in the Virginia Senate in 2023.
Roem's entry into the race gives Democrats a candidate in a newly-redrawn, politically competitive district with no current incumbent in what promises to be a hard-fought race that could determine whether Republicans gain full control over the commonwealth's government.
The Senate is currently divided 21-19, in favor of Democrats, who have, at time, exercised their power to keep the conservative House of Delegates and Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's more controversial ideas at bay.
Conservative media personality and BlazeTV host Elijah Schaffer joked about killing transgender children last week after being told by an unnamed source that a "mass genocide" is being committed against trans youth in Texas.
The comment about "mass genocide," allegedly made off-air, refers to a recent order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott directing state welfare agencies to investigate parents for suspected "child abuse" if they have reason to believe that a transgender minor has obtained gender-affirming health care, such as hormones or puberty blockers, to treat their gender dysphoria.
A Florida man who was convicted of defacing a Pride crosswalk while participating in a rally for former President Donald Trump has been directed to write a 25-page essay on the Pulse nightclub massacre as part of his punishment.
Alexander Jerich previously pleaded guilty to felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor reckless driving for using his pickup truck to burn tire marks over the rainbow-colored crosswalk in the city of Delray Beach, Florida.
Local officials had unveiled the design use just two days earlier to celebrate Pride Month, which celebrates the LGBTQ community and marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, considered by many to be the seminal moment in the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement.
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