NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A stunning announcement from the Trump administration: the President announced that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the military "in any capacity."
In a series of tweets, President Trump said, "After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.
E.W. Jackson of Chesapeake is founder and president of the conservative non profit group "STAND," a pastor and former Marine.
"As a Marine Corps veteran I know the mission of the military is to fight our wars, to keep us secure," he said. "And while I feel compassion for people who have transgender issues, the military's not the place to work those out."
Stacie Walls-Beegle is executive director of the LGBT Center in Norfolk. She says President Trump's decision will hurt many people.
"People who are serving in the military right now who are transgender, woke up today and they hear their boss say, we're not going to let you serve in the military any more," she said. "So the fact that there's no protection for them is a problem."
The announcement seemingly goes against a previous tweet Trump made during the 2016 campaign when he declared, "Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs."
Following Trump's announcement, the Pentagon said revised guidance would be forthcoming.
Pentagon has issued a new statement re: Trump tweets on transgender individuals serving in the military... referring all questions to WH pic.twitter.com/aei1lT4qWR— Elizabeth McLaughlin (@Elizabeth_McLau) July 26, 2017
In Virginia, many politicians have been critical of the President's decision.
Governor Terry McAuliffe chided Trump for using the military as a "platform for your backward anti-LGBT agenda."
.@realDonaldTrump the military isn't a platform for your backward anti-LGBT agenda. Let's welcome all who want to serve, not discriminate.— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) July 26, 2017
Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam tweeted that "anyone who wants to serve our coutnry in the military should be welcomed. They're patriots and should be treated as such." Northam's Republican challenger Ed Gillespie has not yet issued a statement.
.@realDonaldTrump: Anyone who wants to serve our country in the military should be welcomed. They're patriots and should be treated as such.— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) July 26, 2017
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine wondered if the military had been consulted in the decision, and that a general told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that time was needed to review the military's transgender policy.
Also – did the President really consult military leaders on this? Four Star General told SASC a week ago they wanted time to review this— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) July 26, 2017
Hampton Roads Pride issued a statement condemning the decision, saying it would harm the military:
President Donald J. Trump announced a full ban on transgender service members in the U.S. military via Twitter this morning saying, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
The mission of Hampton Roads Pride is to advocate for the inclusion, dignity, and equality of all people and as such, we stands in opposition to any policy that marginalizes or discriminates against any person. The Hampton Roads area is home to one of the world’s largest populations of military personnel and the largest naval base in the world – the policy change announced by President Trump today would have a significant impact on our community.
Hampton Roads Pride president Michael Berlucchi stated today:
“All people have something unique to offer in the service of their country and should be afforded an equal opportunity to do so. Many thousands of people who are transgender currently serve the U.S. military openly and honorably; a policy that would prevent people who are transgender from serving their country would be damaging to military readiness, human dignity, and equality.
Contrary to being a “disruption,” allowing the most number of qualified individuals to serve, including those who identify as transgender, is a force multiplier. Transgender service members place their lives on the line in service of the United States every day. They deserve our respect, appreciation, and support.”
13News Now has reached out to local Republican leaders for their comments.
Congressman Scott Taylor provided this statement:
Our office is currently waiting for the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide information requested on this issue. I am troubled that they seemed to be unaware of this potential policy change and how it was made public. I understand the DoD is in the middle of a review of relevant policies and I believe this ban is premature. There are heroic military members willing to put their lives on the line and give the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, regardless of their gender identity. I support the ability for those who meet all military requirements, medical and otherwise, to have the opportunity to serve our great country. I recently supported the Hartzler amendment on the basis of individual medical readiness, which should always be a priority for the military. Readiness is crucial for us to continue to have the most highly capable fighting force in the world.
Congressman Rob Wittman's communications director sent 13News Now the following in an email:
We are still waiting for information from the Pentagon and the White House in regard to how this policy would be implemented. Right now, all we have is a series of tweets, so we need something a little more solid to evaluate.
However, during debate on this year's National Defense Authorization Act, Rep. Wittman voted in support of an amendment offered by Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri that would have prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars for gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for members of the U.S. military. Mr. Wittman's belief is that the job of the U.S military is to fight and win our nation’s wars but that the current, ill-conceived, transgender policy will most likely lead to increased costs, decreased readiness, and decreased lethality. The Congressman believes our military’s main concern should be on its ability to train and deploy ready servicemen and servicewomen, not on whether a man can medically become a woman or vice versa.
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