NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A local group and state leaders are reacting after President Donald Trump said on Twitter transgender people would be barred from serving in the military.
In a storm of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump said made the decision after consulting with “generals and military experts.”
Hampton Roads Pride issued a lengthy statement on the president’s announcement. Hampton Roads Pride president Michael Berlucchi said in the statement:
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.”
The CEO of the LGBT Life Center, Stacie Walls-Beegle, issued the following statement:
It is clear that this administration has no intent to protect LGBTQ Americans, despite what the President has said in the past. The time for lip-service is over. People in this country, including – as we saw today – people that serve in our military, can be fired just for being transgender. They can be denied housing or be evicted just for being transgender. People in our community woke up this morning to find out they don’t have a job, their boss doesn’t support them, and they don’t know what their future looks like. It’s terrifying, it’s wrong, and it’s dishonorable.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe blasted Trump’s announcement in a tweet of his own.
Congressman McEachin (VA-04) issued this statement:
“Gender has nothing to do with one’s ability to bravely serve his or her country. Mr. Trump’s newest witch-hunt would undermine our military readiness; and trammel the rights of patriotic Americans.
“Those who have chosen to openly discuss their status will presumably be summarily dismissed. Our military has far more urgent tasks than to hunt down able, dedicated service members who are willing to risk their lives in defense of our nation. Our service members defend all Americans, equally — no one group gets special protection. We owe them the same courtesy: the chance to serve, and serve equally, with all of the other brave individuals who have volunteered.
“The commander-in-chief should wake up and thank those who choose to put their lives on the line to defend our country. Instead, he once again engages in bigotry and discrimination. We should remain focused on supporting the strongest military in the world – not increasing discrimination. This ban will not make America great. As a matter of fact, this is a cruel slap in the face of freedom, liberty, and justice.”
Rep. Bobby Scott released the following statement:
“This morning, the country woke up to the news that President Trump unilaterally plans to bar the service of transgender persons in our nation’s military. This announcement places the estimated 15,000 transgender Americans who are currently serving our country at risk of being discharged. President Trump’s action undermines morale and further devalues the service and sacrifice of the more than 130,000 transgender veterans alive today.
“I proudly represent a district that is home to tens of thousands of individuals who currently serve or who have served in our nation’s military. And just this past weekend, the Hampton Roads region was honored to have President Trump at Naval Station Norfolk to commission the new U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, where he was surrounded by diverse servicemen and women who work together as a unit for the defense of our nation.
“However, I hope the President realizes that our military did not get to reflect our nation’s remarkable diversity by accident. Exactly 69 years ago today, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the military. Likewise, in 2010, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ allowing gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals to openly serve in our military. And in 2013, the Obama Administration moved to lift the ban prohibiting women from serving in combat.
“We know that this expansion of opportunity to serve did not eliminate all of the challenges many of our service members face overnight. But what is clear is that the closing of opportunities for any person, who wants to serve our nation in uniform, on account of their race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity is a giant step backwards for both the nation and our military. President Trump’s actions undermine the very bedrock of the principles of freedom that those who serve our nation in uniform defend.”
Congressman Scott Taylor’s office issued a statement as well:
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.”
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