Gregory Angelo, President of the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization dedicated to advocating for LGBT rights, said he was blindsided and disappointed in the President’s series of tweets on Wednesday that declared transgender people were no longer allowed to serve in the US military in ‘any capacity.’ However, he says he is not the only one who was caught off guard.
“I was speaking to people at the White House just this morning who were equally blindsided by the President’s tweets,” Angelo told Red Alert Politics.
President Trump released a series of three tweets around 9 a.m. Wednesday that widely shocked both Republicans and Democrats.
“I’m not sure who had the President’s ear on this issue and the context in which these tweets were drafted, but it clearly is not something that was done in consultation with a broad swath of Republican-elected officials or transgender members of the United States military,” Angelo said.
Currently, the Department of Defense is reviewing its policy on transgender enlistees to determine if transgender individuals in the armed services affect the military’s “readiness or lethality.” This evaluation started under the Obama administration and was extended by Defense Secretary James Mattis in June. While it’s still ongoing, the Defense’s findings are set to be released on December 1st. This is another reason why many were caught off guard by the President’s decision, coming five months before the Department of Defense announces their conclusions.
Angelo says that it is important to mention that there has been no legal action taken by the President banning transgender people yet.
“At least, as of this moment, the president’s tweets about transgender members of the military are just that… tweets,” he says.
It is estimated that almost 16,000 transgender people serve in the US military. In his tweets, the President said that the U.S. military needs to be focused on victory, not burdened by the financial cost and disruption that transgender people bring. The cost to care for transgender service members would increase by anywhere between $2.4 million to $8.4 million per year if the military were to extend its care to transgender personnel. That would be less than one percent of the President’s proposed defense budget.
“The military covers medications and medical treatment for soldiers who are otherwise completely up to the ability to execute their mission to the best of their abilities and why one would single out one type of medical treatment over another is perplexing to me,” Angelo said.
But the LGBT advocacy group believes that the Department of Defense is on the right track with their review. They hope that the President will walk back his decision to ban transgender service members and find some common ground.
“There will need to be policy in some regard that addresses transgender service members and the unique circumstances that they bring to the situation, but banning them from service in ‘any capacity’ is not something that’s in the best interest of the Trump administration or our national security,” Angelo argues.
Overall, Angelo says the Trump administration has been receptive and responsive to the LGBT issues prior to the president’s polarizing ban.
“If there is any silver lining to the story today, it is to see a number of Republicans, including members who have never stood up for the transgender community before doing so today,” he said.
Angelo believes this was purely politics, speculating that the President thought that he could galvanize the party with this announcement. Angelo insists this was not the vehicle to do it and if Trump stands by this decision, it will only further splinter the party.
Most lawmakers stood in opposition to the president, however, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) offered her support for Trump’s efforts to cut costs. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) immediately spoke out in opposition, tweeting “Any American who meets current medical & readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving.”
Any American who meets current medical & readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving - my full stmt: https://t.co/6rHm5OWQzc— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) July 26, 2017
Others have also vocally sided against Trump’s transgender troop ban like Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Controversial GOP transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner also criticized the president expressing that thousands of transgender military personnel have already served this country honorably.