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Overwhelming: GOP & Military Leaders Push Back on Trump’s Tweets

Washington, D.C. (July 27,2017) –  In the past 24 hours, top Republican and military leaders have pushed back on President Trump’s tweets suggesting a ban on transgender individuals serving in the United States Armed Forces.

AUF has collected some of the most notable statements:

Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance. In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.

CONTEXT: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asked Rep. Hartzler to pull anti-trans amendment from NDAA

“Mattis called Hartzler on Thursday to urge her to withdraw the [anti-transgender] amendment from the defense bill, two senior congressional sources told CNN. A Pentagon official confirmed that the call occurred.”

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Mark A. Milley

Chain of command will…treat every single soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guard with dignity and respect for their service. 

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Ryan “share[s] those concerns” of paying for care, but on broader issue wants to see what DOD produces.

Not willing to back trans ban and says he’ll wait on Pentagon.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

I think that it’s important that veterans know that the VA is a safe place to get their care. We value and respect the dignity of all our veterans. Once a person signs up to defend our country, they have to know that the VA is there and committed to them through the end of their life. 

General Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs

The service of men and women who volunteer and who meet our standards of service is a blessing not a burden #InclusionMakesUsStronger

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter

Quality people in uniform are what make our military the finest fighting force the world has ever seen. I continue to maintain that what matters in choosing those is serve is that they are best qualified. To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military. There are already transgender individuals who are serving capably and honorably. The action would also send the wrong signal to a younger generation thinking about military service.

Former Army Secretary Eric Fanning

I was shocked that the commander-in-chief would turn his back on thousands of patriotic Americans who are serving today.

Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander, American Legion

The American Legion, since its inception in 1919, has stood for the principles of justice, freedom, and democracy, and has abhorred hatred and arbitrary discrimination in any form leveled against any person, group or organization. We also believe in maintaining the strongest military possible and every aspect of service should be aimed at maximum readiness to fulfill the mission. Any requirement that disqualifies an able-bodied person from serving in our armed forces should be based solely upon its proven adverse effect on readiness, and nothing else. Furthermore, we believe that the mental and physical qualifications of all military personnel, regardless of gender or age, should be held to a single standard. Should that standard become questionable, The American Legion relies on the judgment of the senior leadership of the military.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) – Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee

…Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military-regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so-and should be treated as the patriots they are…

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

The Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, postponed some decision on this two or three weeks ago — a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what their current view is. It would matter to me what their current view is, and it probably deserves more than a Twitter conversation.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the policy the president tweeted today.

They don’t choose to be transgender. They’re born that way. Why should we hold that against them? They’re human beings, and many of them are extremely talented human beings. We should be open to everybody.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL)

Well, I think you ought to treat everybody fairly and you ought to give everybody a chance to serve. 

The current policy is a big tent for people who want to serve. You’ve got to remember, our military force is a voluntary force.

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)

As a veteran, Senator Ernst served alongside fellow service members from all different backgrounds and parts of the country. She believes what is most important is making sure service members can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life. While she believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)

I would have significant objections to any proposal that calls for a specific group of American patriots currently serving in uniform to be removed from the military.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)

I think anybody who wants to serve in the military should serve in the military… I don’t agree with the president.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

We shouldn’t make our decisions based on a tweet. 

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

As folks know, I was one who said that those who are openly gay should not be denied the opportunity to serve our country and I feel the same way about transgender. If you want to raise your hand and pledge to serve our country honorably, I think we should not put that limitation. 

Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK)

I’m all about training standards. High, high standards for whoever joins the military. But my initial reaction is, if you can meet those standards, we shouldn’t care who you are. So, meet the standards, and you should be able to join the military. 

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

“The Secretary of Defense is conducting a study of this policy and Rob believes we should wait until that is complete before making any decisions,” said Emily Benavides, spokesperson for Portman.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO)

America needs a military comprised of patriots willing to sacrifice for this country. Any American who is physically and emotionally qualified should be allowed to serve. 

Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA)

Americans who are willing and able should be allowed to serve U.S. regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)

Anyone making a commitment to risk their life for our country deserves respect – at least. 

Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)

Removing thousands of men and women from admirably and honorably serving is counterintuitive to strengthening our military. I have serious concerns about what this new directive means for current active duty and reserve transgender members of our Armed Forces and National Guard. I expect Defense Secretary Mattis to provide clarity on this issue and determine what is in the best interest of military readiness to protect our nation. 

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

No American, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be prohibited from honor + privilege of serving our nation.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO)

President Trump should have allowed Secretary Mattis to finish his review of the policy that allowed transgender personnel to serve in the military. I know Secretary Mattis from his extraordinary career in the Marine Corps and as a Marine Corps combat veteran myself, I’m confident that he would have made his decision based solely on the combat effectiveness and the ‘good order and discipline’ of our military. 

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