WASHINGTON– Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, lauded the bipartisan vote in the U.S. House of Representatives opposing the discriminatory ban on transgender service members and recruits. The resolution was sponsored by U.S. Representative Joseph Kennedy, III (D-MA), chair of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force.
“Transgender service members have been serving openly throughout the U.S. Armed Forces with distinction for years, and, with this vote, the House has made clear that they support transgender troops,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “Today’s bipartisan majority in the U.S. House join leading medical associations, national security experts and former military officials in opposing this dangerous and discriminatory policy. We urge the U.S. Senate to take action so that every service member can know that the both chambers of Congress respect their service.”
The final vote was 238-185, with 5 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting in favor of the resolution and one member voting “present”.
Kennedy’s resolution was brought to the floor with the strong support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Subcommittee on Military Personnel Chairwoman Jackie Speier (D-CA). The bipartisan resolution was co-sponsored by 218 representatives, including Republican Representative John Katko (R-NY).
The vote comes just weeks after five brave transgender service members - Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army SSgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Akira Wyatt - testifiedbefore the U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
Following Donald Trump’s initial tweets announcing his intention to ban qualified transgender people from serving in the military, HRC joined six active members of the armed services, three individuals seeking to enlist, the American Military Partners Association (AMPA) and Washington state’s Gender Justice League as co-plaintiffs in Karnoski v. Trump, one of four federal lawsuits filed challenging the ban.
Despite the string of court victories for transgender troops and recruits in federal district and circuit courts, the U.S. Supreme Court recently stayed the preliminary injunctions that had been blocking the Trump-Pence administration from implementing their discriminatory ban. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that they would begin discharging openly transgender service members who come out after April 12, 2019, beginning the discrimination against transgender service members even as several cases continue to make their way through the courts.
A diverse range of voices have opposed banning transgender people from serving in the military. Thirty-three former national security experts and military leaders, the American Medical Association and the NAACP filed briefsin support the cases filed to halt the Trump-Pence ban. In testimony before Congress, all four service branch chiefs statedthat open service for transgender patriots had not inhibited military readiness or unit cohesion.
Last week, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen (ret.), penned a powerful piecesupporting open service for transgender troops and opposing the administration’s arbitrary and animus-fueled policy.
To learn more about HRC’s work combatting discrimination against transgender people, visit HRC.org/transgender.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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