Two senators support transgender military service

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (left) and Susan Collins (R-ME). AP photos by Robert Bukaty and Mike Groll.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, introduced a bipartisan amendment that would prevent the Department of Defense (DOD) from removing qualified service members from the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity.

The measure, if adopted by the Senate, would prevent President Donald Trump from moving forward with his ban on transgender military members.

Specifically, Senators Collins and Gillibrand’s amendment would:

  • Express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve;
  • Prohibit DOD from involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of, currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the member’s gender identity; and
  • Require Secretary Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress.

“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,” said Senator Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. “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,” said Senator Collins. “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.”

Both senators worked to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2010. The policy, enacted in 1993, effectively banned openly gay and lesbian military service, and led to the dismissal  of over ten thousand service members in the 17 years it was in effect.

“Trump's call for banning transgender service members sparked criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, though it's not yet clear if the measure from Gillibrand and Collins can garner the 60 votes it likely will need to pass,” according to a CNN report.

The amendment is the second that the two senators have introduced on transgender military service. The first one was broader, and would have also banned the military from refusing to pay for transition related medical care. The President’s directive specifically banned any payment for that care. The change is considered an effort to attract more GOP votes in the Senate. If the measure comes to a vote, it is expected to require 60 votes to pass.

The senators hope to attach the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is being debated this week, according to CNN.

Copyright The Gayly – September 12, 2017 @ 11:30 a.m.