19 attorneys general urge Congress to block Trump's transgender troop ban

19 attorneys general urge Congress to block Trump's transgender troop ban
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Nineteen state attorneys general, including the one for Washington, D.C., are calling on Congress to block President Trump from implementing a ban on transgender troops.

Specifically, they want the leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services committees to include language in the annual defense policy bill to prohibit discrimination against transgender troops and affirm that transgender Americans cannot be banned from serving.

“The policy announced by President Trump's tweet undermines the national security goal of giving every able American who wants to serve in the military the opportunity to serve, creates untold bureaucratic and legal cost and complexities in implementation, and would put in place a policy that violates fundamental constitutional and American values,” they wrote in a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the committees dated Thursday.

The House has already passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). But the Senate has yet to take up its version, and an amendment could be added on the floor to address the transgender issue.

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On Wednesday, Trump announced on Twitter that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military.

A day later, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford advised the military that the Pentagon will not take any action until Trump sends over an official directive.

Transgender troops have been able to serve openly since the Obama administration lifted the ban in summer 2016.

In their letter, the attorneys general, led by Hawaii, argue Trump’s policy change reopened an issue that was already settled.

They highlighted Defense Secretary James Mattis’s pledge during his confirmation hearing not to reverse the transgender policy, as well as his opposition to a House effort to ban Pentagon funding for transition-related medical care.

They also noted Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE’s (R-Ariz.) own statement that “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.”

Trump’s claims that medical costs are too high and open transgender service too disruptive have already been rejected by leading organizations such as the Rand Corporation, they added.

“The decision to oust honorable, well-trained, and patriotic service members based on nothing more than their gender identity is undiluted discrimination and therefore indefensible,” they wrote. “We urge that this newly announced policy be immediately reversed.” 

The letter was signed by attorneys general from Hawaii, New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state and D.C.