The effort to derail the appointment of Mark Green as Army secretary intensified this week as the nominee lashed out over LGBT rights supporters campaign against him and House Democrats urged the Senate to reject his confirmation.
In a letter dated April 24, 31 House Democrats call on the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee to oppose Green on the basis that the anti-LGBT positions he’s taken over his political career have “made it clear that he cannot be trusted to ensure that LGBT soldiers are able to serve their country without discrimination or harassment.”
“LGBT soldiers are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to protect our rights and freedoms,” the letter says. “It would be deeply disrespectful to their service to appoint a secretary of the Army whose history of homophobia and transphobia makes it clear that he is not willing to do the same for them.”
Spearheading the letter was Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), who said in an interview with the Washington Blade he hasn’t yet had conversations with senators about the nomination, but thinks the letter makes the clear the opposition of signers to the nominee.
Kennedy, the chair of the Congressional Transgender Task Force, pointed out as Army secretary Green would be in charge of as many as 11,000 transgender people serve the U.S. military, according to a RAND Corp. estimate.
“Given what he said, what he has made clear his beliefs are, he has no business being overseeing the Army or any other branch of the armed services, or the United States writ large,” Kennedy said.
Nominated by President Trump earlier this month, Green spearheaded legislation as a Tennessee state legislator that would have barred municipalities from enacting pro-LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and another bill seeking to bar transgender students from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity. Green also supported a law signed by Gov. Bill Haslam allowing mental health practitioners to reject LGBT patients for religious reasons.
But it’s Green’s remarks on LGBT people that have particularly raised eyebrows. During a town hall event in Tennessee before the Chattanooga Tea Party last year, Green equated being transgender to having a “disease,” a view major medical organizations have rejected.
The LGBT media watchdog GLAAD also uncovered audio of an interview of Green last year on an online radio show in which he said he wants to “crush evil” by keeping transgender women from the restroom, comparing them to ISIS.
“So that means as a state senator, my responsibility very clearly in Romans 13 is to create an environment where people who do right are rewarded and the people who do wrong are crushed,” Green said. “Evil is crushed. So I’m going to protect women in their bathrooms, and I’m going to protect our state against potential infiltration from the Syrian ISIS people in the refugee program. And whoever wants to stand up and take me on that, I’m ready to fight.”
Defending himself in a Facebook post, Green accused the “liberal left” of splicing his words and “blatantly falsifying what I’ve said,” denying that he ever called transgender people evil. (The quote from the radio interview is accurate.) The Facebook post links to an article on anti-LGBT website, ChristianFighterPilot.com, which asserts “homosexual activists” are target Green because he’s a Christian.
Asked whether he thinks Green’s nomination will ultimately be derailed, Kennedy said he’d urge senators to take a close look at Green and “ask a pretty simple question as to whether they believe somebody who has described a significant portion of the American population as ‘evil’ should be in charge of our Army.”
“This gets back to just a fundamental principle of whether our government is going to recognize, see and celebrate diversity and inclusion and be able to acknowledge and lift up those who are willing to put their life on the line to defend the rest of us,” Kennedy said.
The Blade has sought comment on the letter from House Democrats from the offices of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), top Democrat on the committee.
Although the Trump administration has made other anti-LGBT appointments, such as Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, Kennedy said the nomination of Mark Green as Army secretary is “beyond the pale” compared to the other actions.
“I think we’ve seen a pattern of actions by this administration that have targeted the LGBT community,” Kennedy said. “All of them, I believe, have been horrible. This one, I think, the idea that somebody who holds these beliefs about the trans community, you elevate that believes such view to the secretary of the Army, I think is just beyond the pale.”