Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service

Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Suburban moms are going to decide the 2020 election Jon Stewart urges Congress to help veterans exposed to burn pits 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 ReedWhen 'Buy American' and common sense collide Hillicon Valley: Russia 'amplifying' concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election | Facebook and Twitter take steps to limit Trump remarks on voting | Facebook to block political ads ahead of election Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts MORE (D-R.I.) and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Most Americans think winner of election should pick next Supreme Court justice: poll Murkowski: Supreme Court nominee should not be taken up before election MORE (R-Maine), comes weeks after the Supreme Court paved the way for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards 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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

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 McCainMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day McConnell urges GOP senators to 'keep your powder dry' on Supreme Court vacancy McSally says current Senate should vote on Trump nominee 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 MattisBiden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies Trump says he wanted to take out Syria's Assad but Mattis opposed it Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE later released a policy in March 2018 that would allow transgender people to do so in their biological sex.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 SpeierOvernight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies House to vote on 'I Am Vanessa Guillén' bill Overnight Defense: Trump's battle with Pentagon poses risks in November | Lawmakers launch Fort Hood probe | Military members can't opt out of tax deferral MORE (D-Calif.) with Reps. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoThis week: House returns for pre-election sprint Hillicon Valley: Simulated cyberattack success | New bill for election security funding | Amazon could be liable for defective products Lawmakers introduce bill to help election officials address cyber vulnerabilities MORE (R-N.Y.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar MORE (D-Calif.) and Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownPelosi seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle Democrats demand Esper explicitly ban Confederate flag and allow Pride, Native Nations flags Trump tweets key GOP lawmaker has committed to not changing Confederate base names MORE (D-Md) co-sponsoring the measure.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.”