Over the past two days, the nation has witnessed a renewed assault on the LGBTQ community. President Trump announced in a series of tweets yesterday morning that the nation will “not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” citing healthcare costs and “disruption” as the rationale. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders further clarified that the President had concluded that transgender individuals serving openly “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion.”
It is estimated that up to 15,000 transgender individuals are currently serving honorably in all manner of positions across the United States Armed Forces. These are individuals who work and fight every day to defend American values and freedoms. To bar them outright would be extremely disruptive and damaging, causing legal disarray for the government and personal strife to the individuals affected.
Then, the New York Times reports today that the Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has filed an amicus brief “arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.” The Justice Department argues that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not explicitly protect sexual orientation, and that Congress has repeatedly declined to add sexual orientation to the law. The Department of Justice states further that, as the largest employer in the nation, it has a “substantial and unique interest” in weighing in and clarifying the law.
We are heartened that the Pentagon announced today that transgender individuals will be able to continue serving in our nation’s armed forces…unless and until the White House “sends the Defense Department new rules and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.” While temporarily relieving, this is not a guarantee and we must not let up.
LGBTQ civil rights are the achievement of decades of resolute effort and determination, informed by generations of silence and suffering. We must ensure that the struggles and achievements of so many are not forgotten and are not undone. BAYMEC will continue to be part of this long tradition of advancing LGBTQ civil rights. We will not be silent.