Metro Weekly

Full-page ad in USA Today highlights bipartisan opposition to transgender military ban

Defense Secretary Mattis is slated to submit recommendations on allowing transgender individuals to serve

A screenshot of the ad running in USA Today and Gannett newspapers – Photo: Human Rights Campaign.

A coalition of LGBTQ groups has published a full-page ad in USA Today featuring quotes from military and national security leaders and a bipartisan group of politicians who oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to ban transgender individuals from serving in the Armed Forces.

The ad, taken out by the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN, the American Military Partner Association, and Gender Justice League, encourages Americans opposed to Trump’s proposed transgender ban to call the White House and express their opposition.

The ad will also run in every local Gannett paper nationwide on Wednesday.

“Military leaders, national security officials, bipartisan lawmakers in Congress and a majority of Americans oppose the Trump-Pence ban on transgender troops, which would hurt military readiness,” the ad reads. “Tell Donald Trump and Mike Pence not to put their politics ahead of our troops. Call the White House: 202-456-1414.”

The leaders quoted in the ad include Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.); Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford; former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen; former Army Secretary Eric Fanning; former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James; and Gen. Martin Dempsey.

“This ad is a timely and critical reminder of how the Trump-Pence Administration is woefully out of touch, discriminatory, and disrespectful in their position on the brave and courageous service our trans service members demonstrate each and every day,” Matt Thorn, the president and CEO of OutServe-SLDN, said in a statement. “From former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, along with a majority of Americans; all have agreed that transgender service members are not a burden but essential assets for our 21st century military, our readiness as a country, and our strategic interests.

“The bottom line in an all-volunteer force must be if you meet the standards and requirements you should and must be allowed to serve our country, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and yes, gender identity,” Thorn added.

“The Trump-Pence Administration’s vicious targeting of actively serving military families with a discriminatory transgender ban is unconscionable and based on nothing but blatant anti-LGBT animus,” Ashley Broadway-Mack, the president of the American Military Partner Association, said in a statement. “No military family should have to face the uncertainty and fear Trump and Pence are inflicting on their lives with this ban. This ad is just a snapshot of the overwhelming number of military experts and bipartisan members of Congress who all agree with the far majority of Americans that any qualified American — regardless of their gender identity — should be able to serve our country.”

Since Trump announced his plans to ban transgender service members last July, six federal courts have found that the proposed ban is likely unconstitutional and have issued injunctions to stop the Pentagon from carrying out any such ban. Recently, the content of emails sent by Dunford to other top generals was made public. In those emails, Dunford seems to imply that Trump did not consult him or other military leaders before announcing the ban, as he claimed in his initial tweet.

In keeping with a deadline set by Trump that expired last Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is expected to issue recommendations on whether transgender individuals are capable of serving. Mattis had been scheduled to meet with the president on Wednesday, but that meeting was cancelled.

According to The Washington Post, Mattis is expected to recommend allowing transgender individuals to serve, so long as they are able to deploy at a minute’s notice without requiring excessive or cumbersome accommodations.

Frank Gaffney, the president and CEO of Center for Security Policy, has opined that Mattis’ emphasis on deployability — as lined out in public statements he made prior to issuing his recommendations — should rule out any transgender individuals from serving.

Gaffney says that Mattis’ ‘deploy-or-out’ policy “will reestablish readiness as the uniformed services’ top priority, not social engineering that impairs it.”

“[The policy] would apply to so-called ‘transgender’ individuals afflicted with the clinical condition known as ‘gender dysphoria’ who are routinely unable to work, let alone deploy, due to hormone treatments, surgeries, psychological care, etc.,” Gaffney said in his Secure Freedom Radio Minute. “President Trump has sensibly ordered the Pentagon not to recruit such people. Several federal courts have outrageously ignored his authority to do so. Gen. Mattis has established a sound basis for rejecting such anti-constitutional and dangerous judicial interference.”

But LGBTQ advocates say that a broad ban, like the one floated by the president, lacks the nuance needed to distinguish between those transgender service members who are deployable, and those whose gender dysphoria prevents them from effectively serving.

“Military leaders, national security officials, and bipartisan lawmakers agree with the majority of Americans who believe the Trump-Pence Administration’s ban on transgender troops is not only wrong, but hurts military readiness,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “Donald Trump’s erratic tweets and  half-baked orders disrespect the bravery of countless transgender people who have fought and sacrificed for our country. It’s long past time the White House abandon this reckless, unconstitutional ban and give these brave individuals the dignity, respect and honor they deserve.”

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