With the Supreme Court recently declaring that the ban can go into effect even before litigation around it is settled, a bipartisan group of Senators and Congresspeople has introduced legislation to settle the issue once and for all.
Marilyn Drew Necci | February 11, 2019
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of three United States Senators, including Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, as well as Republican Susan Collins of Maine, introduced a bill that would keep transgender people currently serving in the US Armed Forces from being discharged and allow new trans recruits to enlist in the military.
The legislation was introduced at the same time as companion legislation in the House Of Representatives, introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, along with fellow Democrats Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts, Susan Davis of California, and Anthony Brown of Maryland, as well as Republican John Katko of New York.
“President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have all testified to Congress that transgender service members are serving in our military without any problems. We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country. That’s what our legislation would do, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to fight with me to overturn the President’s cruel and unnecessary ban, respect the transgender troops who are willing to die for our country, and pass this bipartisan bill now.”
This bill was introduced only days after a high-ranking official in the California National Guard stated publicly that the state’s National Guard would not discharge transgender service members, regardless of the decisions made by the Executive Branch.
“As long as you fight, we don’t care what gender you identify as,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, assistant adjutant general for the California National Guard, told the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday. “Nobody’s going to kick you out.”
For Gillibrand, who is currently a candidate for President in 2020, legislation like this offers the chance to demonstrate to the LGBTQ community that she will be a strong advocate for our interests. Indeed, her record shows as much: Gillibrand previously fought to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, pushing for Senate hearings on the policy soon after she’d taken over Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat in 2009, and making numerous public appearances in support of repealing the anti-LGBTQ policy. She also introduced a bill in 2011 attempting to repeal the anti-marriage equality Defense Of Marriage Act — which was, of course, eventually found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
More recently, an outspoken opponent of the trans military ban, she was one of several members of Congress who brought transgender service members with her as guests to President Trump’s 2019 State Of The Union speech.
Sadly, Gillibrand’s bill doesn’t have incredibly strong chances of working its way through the Republican-controlled Senate this year, though Speier’s bill faces less opposition in the Democratic-controlled House. Regardless, even if it passed through both houses of Congress, one can only assume President Trump would veto it if it came across his desk. Womp womp. However, its mere existence serves to put increased pressure on the presidential administration, and helps make clear that the public are not behind the trans military ban. Which is always nice.
Photo: Kirsten Gillibrand, by Rebecca Hammel, U.S. Senate Photographic Studio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons