Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service

Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandRules for first Democratic primary debates announced Juan Williams: Warren on the rise 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown MORE (D-N.Y.), who is vying to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020, introduced Thursday a bill to allow transgender people to serve in the military.

The bill, which was also introduced by Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedTrump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE (D-R.I.) and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns Stephen King: 'It's time for Susan Collins to go' MORE (R-Maine), comes weeks after the Supreme Court paved the way for President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE to begin implementing a ban on transgender military service.

“President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military,” Gillibrand, an Armed Service Committee member, said in a statement. “We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country.”

In January, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to stay two district court orders that blocked Trump’s policy from taking effect. The ruling allows the administration to temporarily enforce its restrictions on transgender people serving in the military.

The new policy still has not taken effect, though, because of one remaining injunction placed on it by a federal district court in Maryland.

Gillibrand, Reed, Collins and the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVeterans group to hand out USS John McCain T-shirts for July 4 on the National Mall Will we ever have another veteran as president? Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' MORE (R-Ariz.) introduced similar legislation in 2017, when Trump first announced his policy.

Trump first announced over Twitter in July 2017 that he intended to ban all transgender people from serving in the military.

Then-Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisNew Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE later released a policy in March 2018 that would allow transgender people to do so in their biological sex.

Transgender people and their advocates argued the policy was still effectively a ban akin to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.

The bill introduced Thursday would prohibit the Pentagon from discharging any currently serving member of the military solely on the basis of gender identity. It would also say that recruits cannot be denied entry into the military solely based on their gender identity.

“There are thousands of transgender Americans serving in our Armed Forces today with courage, honor, and distinction,” Reed said in a statement. “We must not allow bigotry to impede our military’s critical mission.”

In her own statement, Collins added that “if individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to kick them out of the military.”

A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierDemocratic lawmaker on Iran: 'We are provoking them, we are taunting them' Overnight Defense: Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy | Trump, Macron downplay rift on Iran | Trump mourns West Point cadet's death in accident | Pentagon closes review of deadly Niger ambush Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' MORE (D-Calif.) with Reps. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban MORE (R-N.Y.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisSupporting the military means supporting military spouses Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race Republican's campaign accused of racism for referring to Palestinian opponent as a 'national security threat' MORE (D-Calif.) and Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownBipartisan congressmen unveil amendment to block Iran strike without congressional approval 7 in 10 Americans support transgender people serving in military: poll House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban MORE (D-Md) co-sponsoring the measure.

The bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate, but could get traction in the Democratic-controlled House.

It also serves as a statement from Gillibrand as she revs up her presidential campaign. Gillibrand invited a transgender service member to Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, and last year she questioned each of the military’s service chiefs on whether allowing open service from transgender people has caused any problems with unit cohesion, morale or discipline. 

“The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have all testified to Congress that transgender service members are serving in our military without any problems,” she said in Thursday’s statement. “I urge my colleagues in Congress to fight with me to overturn the President’s cruel and unnecessary ban, respect the transgender troops who are willing to die for our country, and pass this bipartisan bill now.”