The Latest: Duckworth says transgender ban discriminatory
Jul. 26, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's decision to bar transgender people from serving in the military (all times local):
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee veteran of the Iraq War, is slamming President Donald Trump's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.
Duckworth said in a statement Wednesday that when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, she 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."
The Illinois senator said anyone willing to risk their lives for their country should be able to serve no matter gender or sexual orientation or race.
She said, "Anything else is discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security."
A national LGBTQ advocacy group says President Donald Trump's decision to bar transgender people from military service is an "all-out assault" on these individuals.
Stephen Peters, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, tells The Associated Press that Trump's decision was "alarming" because it comes after a decade of progress toward inclusion in the military. Peters says the decision is "morally reprehensible," ''patently unpatriotic" and dangerous because it "puts a target on the backs of thousands of service members."
Trump announced on Twitter that he is barring transgender people from service in the military "in any capacity." He cited "tremendous medical costs and disruption."
Peters says the decision doesn't appear to have factored in the effect on military morale and readiness.
Ash Carter, who as secretary of defense last year ended the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, is criticizing President Donald Trump's decision to ban their service.
Carter issued a statement Wednesday saying that the important thing for choosing who is allowed to serve is whether they are best qualified.
"To choose service members on other grounds than military qualification," he said, "is social policy and has no place in our military."
Carter added that transgender individuals already are serving capably and honorably in the military.
The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee is calling President Donald Trump's newly announced ban on transgender military service "an unwarranted and disgraceful attack."
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington says preventing transgender people from joining the military and pushing out "those who have devoted their lives to this country would be ugly and discriminatory in the extreme."
Smith also is challenging the estimates cited by conservative lawmakers that show the Pentagon end up spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade to pay for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies.
He says those figures "have no basis in fact" and likely were "cooked up by right-wing advocacy organizations whose real interest is not to support military readiness but to further discrimination."
The Pentagon, which appeared to be caught off-guard by Trump's tweets barring transgender people from the military, is referring all questions about them to the White House.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said in a brief written statement that the Pentagon is working with the White House to "address" what he calls "the new guidance" from the president on transgender individuals serving in the military.
Davis said the Pentagon will provide revised guidance to Defense Department officials "in the near future."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is slamming President Donald Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military as "vile and hateful."
In a statement, Pelosi pointed out Trump's decision came on the same day in 1948 that President Harry S. Truman signed the executive order desegregating the military.
The California Democrat called Trump's action "a cruel and arbitrary decision designed to humiliate transgender Americans who stepped forward to serve our country."
She said a study commissioned by the department found the cost of providing medically necessary transition-related care would be $2 million to $8 million a year, a small amount from what the Pentagon spends on military care.
She said the "disgusting ban" will weaken the military and the nation it defends. She said Trump's conduct is not driven by "honor, decency or national security, but by raw prejudice."
The Pentagon seems to have been unaware that President Donald Trump has decided to bar transgender people from the military.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, refused to answer questions about what Trump's tweeted announcement means for the current policy, including whether transgender people already serving in the military will be kicked out.
"Call the White House," he said.
The White House press office did not immediately respond to request for comment.
President Donald Trump is barring transgender people from serving in the military "in any capacity." He's citing "tremendous medical costs and disruption."
Trump's announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military.
The president tweeted that after consulting with "Generals and military experts," the government "will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
A Rand Corp. study estimated that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members on active duty and an additional 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban.