41 groups join together in opposition to Trump Army secretary pick

41 groups join together in opposition to Trump Army secretary pick
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A coalition of 41 civil rights groups is pushing the Senate Armed Services Committee to reject Army Secretary nominee Mark Green over what they describe as “inflammatory rhetoric” and “radical views.”

In a letter provided first to The Hill, the groups said that such statements threaten the military’s morale and readiness.

“The undersigned organizations, including groups focused on civil rights, LGBTQ equality, women’s rights, Muslims and other religious minorities, and the military, urge you to reject the intended nomination of Mark Green to be secretary of the Army,” they wrote to committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE (R-Ariz.) and ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem McCain pledges 'rigorous oversight' after Air Force failure to report Texas gunman's conviction Dems furious over Air Force failure to report Texas shooter's conviction MORE (D-R.I.).

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“Mark Green’s inflammatory rhetoric conflicts with the Army’s core values and ability to draw on the best talent to accomplish the mission. His radical views would send an incredibly dangerous message down the chain of command — a message that undermines the important progress we’ve made, threatening morale and readiness.”

Green’s nomination has drawn fierce opposition over comments he’s made and bills he’s supported as a Tennessee state senator.

Green, a retired Army Ranger, has defended himself by saying liberals are twisting his words and attacking him for his religion.

“The liberal left has cut and spliced my words about terrorism and ISIS blatantly falsifying what I've said,” Green said in a Facebook post last week. “I believe that every American has a right to defend their country regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. It's the radical left that won't allow the latter.”

The letter Friday was organized by Human Rights Campaign. Signatories include the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, Lambda Legal, the Center for American Progress, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice, the Service Women’s Action Network and Protect Our Defenders, among other high-profile groups that had not commented on the nomination before.

Other signatories have already been vocal in their opposition, including the American Military Partner Association, Muslim Advocates, Outserve-SLDN and Truman National Security Project.

In the letter, the groups highlight anti-LGBT legislation Green has supported or co-sponsored in Tennessee, including a bill that would allow therapists to deny treatment to LGBT individuals on religious grounds and another that would prohibit transgender students from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

They also focused on his record on birth control and abortions. Green supported a bill requiring abortion providers to be licensed as ambulatory surgical treatment centers, which pro-abortion rights groups consider an attempt at restricting access. A similar one in Texas was struck down by the Supreme Court last year.

Green has also said that as a physician he regularly declines to prescribe birth control to women, instead referring them to other doctors.

“This record is extremely troubling for the women serving in the Army whom already often struggle to access reproductive health care,” the letter said.

Finally, the letter talks about his past statements on Muslims. In his book on interrogating Saddam Hussein, he described Iraqi high-value targets as smelling like “curry mixed with sweat.” And he’s said lessons about Islam shouldn’t be taught in public schools unless referring to a “Muslim horde” and “the assault of Islam” during the Ottoman Empire. 

“Mark Green has made a political career out of demeaning and marginalizing vulnerable communities and attacking their access to equality and opportunity,” the letter concluded. “Our Army is made up of diverse communities of soldiers who proudly serve our nation and put their lives on the line for our freedoms. It would be unconscionable to put Mark Green in charge of that Army.”