In a Wednesday morning tweet thread, President Donald Trump announced his plan to bar transgender people from serving in the US military. His declaration was met with confusion and dismay as it came on the heels of an Obama-era policy that was supposed to begin allowing transgender soldiers to openly serve in the armed forces July 1, but was stalled for six months.
Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo said Wednesday that “the president’s statement this morning does a disservice to transgender military personnel,” while many federal lawmakers — especially those serving in the congressional LGBTQ caucus — expressed their concern for Trump’s tweets.
While Trump’s statement seemed to come out of the blue, Politico congressional reporter Rachael Bade offered what may have been the catalyst for the president’s tweets: She posted that House leaders asked the White House to clarify its policy on the Pentagon funding gender confirmation procedures, “but [Trump] went way further...” She wrote that a source in the GOP told her “this is like someone told the WH to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire.”
One Hill GOP sources tells me: "This is like someone told the WH to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire." https://t.co/xFRKUGOddK— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) July 26, 2017
Which may explain why so many lawmakers in leadership roles are coming out against the president’s statement — they were just as taken aback by the announcement as the public was.
The dissension among congressional leaders wasn’t isolated to the Democratic Party. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office tweeted out a measured statement that called for more information and clarity from the President.
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) told the Des Moines Register that she disagrees with the military ban.
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) told Vox’s Tara Golshan, “I don’t agree with the president.”
Sen. Gardner on Trump's tweet on transgender Americans in the military: "I don't agree with the president"— Tara Golshan (@t_golshan) July 26, 2017
Meanwhile, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker called transgender military personnel heroes, and said the president was flat-out wrong.
Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) tweeted directly at the president, saying, “attacks on #transgender troops are wrong.”
Arizona Congress member Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) responded with a thread of his own, calling the ban “both discriminatory and bad national security policy.”
Banning any qualified person from serving their country because of who they are is both discriminatory and bad national security policy. 1/— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) July 26, 2017
Many voices from the California delegation also came out against the ban. Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), reposted the president’s tweets and wrote in response, “anti-trans pronouncement is ugly and wrong.”
Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) tweeted “banning transgender servicemembers does not represent who we are as Americans.”
We won't accept backward and hateful policies. As part of @LGBTEqCaucus, we'll continue fighting for transgender rights and respect for all.— Rep. Scott Peters (@RepScottPeters) July 26, 2017
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), a veteran, said trans soldiers “deserve our thanks & support, not this bigotry & hatred.”
Congress member Dan Kildee (D-MI) noted that on this day in 1948, President Harry Truman signed an executive order to racially integrate the US military.
On this day in 1948, Pres. Truman abolished racial discrimination in the military.— Rep. Dan Kildee (@RepDanKildee) July 26, 2017
Today @POTUS banned transgender Americans from serving.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) called the decision to ban transgender Americans from the military “wrong.”
POTUS decision banning transgender Americans from the military amounts to discrimination against soldiers serving their country. It's wrong.— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) July 26, 2017
New York Representative and ranking member on the House Rules Committee Louise Slaughter (D) put a timeline on the ban, saying the Department of Defense “could begin discharging transgender service members at any moment.”
If what #POTUS laid out in his tweets is implemented, the DoD could begin discharging transgender service members at any moment.— Louise Slaughter (@louiseslaughter) July 26, 2017
The LGBT Caucus has also been keeping a running list of lawmakers’ statements on their Twitter account @LGBTEqCaucus.