Continues House Democratic response to misguided transgender military ban policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Joe Kennedy III early last week introduced a resolution rejecting President Donald Trump’s ban on openly transgender servicemembers and urging the Department of Defense to not reinstate a blatantly discriminatory policy. As Chair of the Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, Kennedy was joined by over 100 of his colleagues calling on the Department of Defense to maintain the existing, inclusive policy implanted under the Obama Administration.
“No one willing to serve in our armed services and sacrifice for this country should be subjected to intolerance and bigotry from their commander-in-chief,” said Congressman Kennedy. “But beyond the message sent to our servicemembers, the President’s tweets sent a hateful, harmful message to every single transgender man, woman, and child in this nation. Today, my colleagues and I are not only rejecting this misguided policy, but telling every transgender American that they are seen, they are heard, and they will not be erased or discounted by their government.”
Along with 111 cosponsors, the resolution has been endorsed by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Palm Center, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Lambda Legal.
“Our service members should never be subjected to such animus and bigotry, and none of them should ever be forced to live a lie in order to serve their country,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “The new pro-equality majority of the House is in a unique position to finally put a check on this reckless President and his constant attempts to erase transgender people. We thank Representative Kennedy for introducing this resolution and every sponsor for standing up against this foolish and prejudiced ban.”
“The majority of Americans, a bipartisan coalition in Congress and military leadership from all branches have stood up for the basic principle that all qualified troops and recruits should be able to serve,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “There is simply no reason to bar qualified transgender people from military service. This resolution sends a powerful signal to brave transgender patriots that their service to this nation is respected and should be protected, and we thank Representative Kennedy for his leadership on this issue and on behalf of transgender people.”
“As today’s resolution makes clear, the evidence is irrefutable: military leaders, a mountain of research studies, and the reality of successful transgender service all point to one conclusion: inclusive service works, while discrimination harms the military. Another round of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is the last thing our military needs,” said Dr. Aaron Belkin, Director of The Palm Center.
“Lambda Legal is so thankful to Congressman Kennedy for spearheading this important resolution to ensure that transgender service members are treated equally,” said Sharon McGowan, Legal Director and Chief Strategy Officer of Lambda Legal. “Transgender military personnel are meeting every rigorous military standard that is required of all service members and have done so for more than two and half years. The House of Representatives must strongly oppose any effort by the Trump Administration to discriminate against qualified transgender service members.”
“This powerful resolution shows the commitment of Members of Congress to opposing the Trump administration’s discriminatory and unconstitutional ban on military service by transgender people. Transgender service members, like those represented by the ACLU in our legal challenge, have proven time and again that they have the courage and capacity to serve in our nation’s armed forces,” said Ian Thompson, Senior Legislative Representative, ACLU. “The time for action is now. Members of Congress who oppose this administration’s bigoted ban must act to make sure it cannot be implemented.”
Kennedy serves as chairman of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force. Following the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, he introduced the Do No Harm Act with Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), which would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to preserve civil rights. Last year, Kennedy led nearly 100 colleagues demanding the rejection of a proposed policy by the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine “sex” to exclude the transgender community and deny them basic civil rights protections. He has been a proud co-sponsor of major equality legislation, from the Equality Act to the Global Respect Act to the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
[From a News Release]