Politicians, LGBT activists weigh in on Trump's transgender military ban

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon at the White House, July 25, 2017.PlayJustin Gilliland/The New York Times/Redux
WATCH LGBT service members, activists react to Trump's transgender ban

President Donald Trump’s tweets this morning, announcing his decision to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military, has elicited a wide range of reactions.

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Democrats and anti-discrimination groups largely condemned the policy, while others expressed support for it.

Here are some of the responses, including statements from lawmakers and the LGBT community.

Democrats reacted swiftly, calling the bill discriminatory and unpatriotic:

Former Vice President Joe Biden, via Twitter

“Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

“When my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve — no matter your gender identity, sexual orientation or race. Anything else is discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

“This morning transgender service members put on their uniform and showed up for their military duties to be told by their Commander in Chief via Twitter that he doesn’t want them in ‘any capacity.’ These service members are willing to die for their country, and this is an insult to their brave and honorable service. This new directive is harmful, misguided and weakens — not strengthens — our military. I will introduce legislation and will fight to overturn this discriminatory decision.”

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., via Twitter

“I disagree with this decision. If you are qualified to serve, you shouldn’t be banned from the military.

Also — did the president really consult military leaders on this? Four Star General told SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] a week ago they wanted time to review this.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., via Twitter

“The only thing — only thing — that matters when it comes to allowing military personnel to serve is whether or not they can handle the job.”

“By attacking thousands of troops, @realDonaldTrump makes clear that he cares more about extreme ideology than military readiness.”

“.@realDonaldTrump can pretend this is a military decision, but it isn’t. Banning troops on gender identity is shameful & makes us less safe.”

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., via Twitter

“Transgender Americans in military are heroes like anyone else risking their lives to defend us. @POTUS is wrong.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., via Twitter

“@POTUS @realDonaldTrump I promise you: this fight is not over. Hatred will never defeat #pride — both of country & of living your life as your true self.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“This administration’s directive against the transgender community is intolerable, unjust and a betrayal of our values. #LGBT.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, via Twitter

“President Trump needs to wake up. We want an inclusive society. God bless all who want to serve our nation, regardless of gender identity.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

“On the 69th anniversary of President Truman’s order to integrate the military, President Trump has come down on the wrong side of history. He is choosing to divide us rather than unite us. Brave Americans who seek to selflessly serve this country in uniform should have the opportunity to answer the call to service, regardless of their identity. The Trump administration’s decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. armed forces is another anachronistic, divisive and discriminatory policy that does nothing to enhance the safety and security of the country.”

Reactions from Republican lawmakers and conservative groups:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.

The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“The commander in chief has a lot of latitude here. I don’t know what the policy proposal is. I don’t know why he decided what he did. But I think the right thing to do here is to have a hearing so we can hear from both sides.”

Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo.

“I’m pleased to hear that President Trump shares my readiness and cost concerns, and I’m glad to hear the president will be changing this costly and damaging policy. Military service is a privilege, not a right. We must ensure all our precious defense dollars are used to strengthen our national defense. Now, we can focus on rebuilding our military and addressing the growing threats around the world.”

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon

“AFA applauds President Trump for his courageous decision to end the usage of our military for social engineering and political correctness. American families deserve a military that is focused solely on readiness and national defense.”

Log Cabin Republicans

“This smacks of politics, pure and simple. The United States military already includes transgender individuals who protect our freedom day in and day out. Excommunicating transgender soldiers only weakens our readiness; it doesn’t strengthen it. The president’s statement this morning does a disservice to transgender military personnel and reintroduces the same hurtful stereotypes conjured when openly gay men and women were barred from service during the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ era. As an organization that led the charge against that hateful policy, Log Cabin Republicans remains equally committed to standing up for transgender military personnel who put their lives on the line to keep us free.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins

“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military. The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.

President Trump recognizes what the nation’s military leadership and the American people realize, this Obama policy makes no sense.

Now that we are assured that the Defense Department has its fiscal priorities in order, Family Research Council withdraws our opposition to increasing the budget of the Department of Defense through the ‘Make America Secure Appropriations Act’ and looks forward to seeing that legislation pass.”

LGBTQ rights activists and groups were outraged:

Chelsea Manning, via Twitter

“Today is further reason we should dismantle the bloated and dangerous military/intel/police state to fund #healthcare for all #WeGotThis.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin

“Today Donald Trump has proven himself as unpatriotic as he is unfit to serve as commander in chief. He has put a target on the backs of the more than 15,000 transgender troops proudly serving in our military. This heinous and disgusting action endangers the lives of American service members, undermines military readiness and makes our country less safe. It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political pawns.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

“It’s a sad day when the president of the United States declares that transgender Americans are unwelcome in the United States military. This policy is deeply objectionable — it devalues individual Americans and is blatantly discriminatory. We’ll fight against this unpatriotic ban of transgender troops. We cannot let bigotry stop Americans from serving their country. It is especially bitter and ironic that President Trump is attempting to place unnecessary and discriminatory barriers against transgender military service on the very anniversary of President Harry Truman’s executive action in 1948 to desegregate the military.”

American Civil Liberties Union

“This is an outrageous and desperate action. The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander in chief who rejects their basic humanity,” said Joshua Block, the staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV projects.

Let us be clear. This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country. The president is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of military personnel who have put their lives on the line for their country.

There is no basis for turning trans people away from our military, and the ACLU is examining all of our options on how to fight this. For any trans service member affected by today’s announcement: Please get in touch with us, because we want to hear from you.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

“President Trump today issued a direct attack on transgender Americans, and his administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government — even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation. Today further exposed President Trump’s overall goal to erase LGBTQ Americans from this nation. Trump has never been a friend to LGBTQ Americans, and this action couldn’t make that any more clear.”

National Center from Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Kiesling

“This is worse than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ This is ‘don’t serve, don’t serve.’ This is an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand. The president wants to discard thousands of trained and skilled troops who are already serving honorably and done nothing but be honest about who they are. To turn away qualified recruits simply because of who they are is a shameful way to show our country’s gratitude to the people who serve our country.”

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