LGBT groups: Trump 'couldn't have picked a worse' Army secretary nominee

LGBT groups: Trump 'couldn't have picked a worse' Army secretary nominee
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LGBT groups are raising pressure on President Trump's nominee for Army secretary, just three days after the pick became official, and are vowing a fight.

Trump “couldn’t have picked a worse nominee to pick a fight with Congress,” David Stacy, government affairs director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said Monday.

“It’s a nonstarter with Democrats, and a nonstarter with moderate Republicans. It’s guaranteed to cause a fight on the Hill.”

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Stacy was speaking in a press call alongside Stephen Peters, HRC national press secretary, and Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, about their opposition to nominee Mark Green.

The White House late Friday announced Trump intends to nominate Green, a Republican state senator from Tennessee, to be the Army’s top civilian leader, making official a nomination that had been expected.

If confirmed, Green would succeed Eric Fanning, the first openly gay service secretary.

Green has a noteworthy Army career, having served as a special operations flight surgeon. He was the emergency physician during the operation that captured Saddam Hussein in 2003 and was the first person to interrogate Hussein following the capture.

But as a Tennessee state senator, he’s made numerous anti-LGBT statements and sponsored a number of anti-LGBT bills.

In a speech at the Chattanooga Tea Party last year, he said that “transgender is a disease” and railed against then-President Obama’s efforts to require public schools to let transgender children use the bathroom of their choice.

“We are back to where the country was at its beginning, and it’s the armed citizen who will defend this nation,” Green said. “And there’s something else that we’ve got to protect ourselves from, and it is an overreaching federal government. The notion that Mr. Obama thinks that he can tell the state of Tennessee who can go into a men’s bathroom or a women’s bathroom is absurd.”

In the same speech, he advocated for “civil disobedience” to respond to what a questioner described as the “tyrannical government.” Green used an example involving the governor of Tennessee possibly denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Green also sponsored a bill that would prohibit action against a business for its personnel and benefits policies so long as those policies are already compliant with state law.

Tennessee law does not specifically bar discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity, and LGBT advocates say Green’s bill is meant to allow companies to discriminate against them.

In Monday’s call, Peters called Green “one of most extreme anti-LGBT politicians in the country.”

Broadway-Mack said she’s heard from a number of members of her group who are concerned about Green.

Stacy said his group started outreach to Capitol Hill on Friday afternoon and has heard a “high degree of concern” from Democrats and moderate Republicans.

“Nobody’s committing their boss on a yes or no vote this early,” he added. “The degree of engagement has been very high because of obvious things in his record.”

In addition to the HRC’s initial research, the group is doing a more “robust dig” into Green’s record and is planning to put together video footage of his comments, Stacy said.

In addition to fears about rolling back policies allowing LGBT troops to serve openly, Stacy said they are worried about the message having an anti-LGBT leader will send down the chain of command. 

“Nothing is more important than standing up for every single service member,” he said.