May 21, 2018 at 6:12 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Bipartisan amendment introduced against Trump’s trans military ban
jackie Speir, California, House of Representatives, SHOK resolution, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers seeking to amend a defense bill against Trump’s trans military ban. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed an amendment to major defense policy legislation that would abrogate President Trump’s ban on transgender military service.

The amendment — introduced by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — was submitted before the House Rules Committee for consideration as part of the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill.

The House Rules Committee is set to consider amendments to the defense legislation on Monday and Tuesday. If the committee agrees to the amendment — a tall order for a committee stacked with Republicans — the House will debate and vote on the measure as part of floor consideration of the bill later this week.

The amendment seeks to enact transgender military policy that was in effect October 2016 — a time immediately after the Obama administration changed the policy to allow transgender service — in addition to allowing accession of transgender recruits, which was set to begin in July. After President Trump tweeted that month he’d ban transgender people from the military “in any capacity,” he issued a directive to the Pentagon prohibiting transgender service and reversing the Obama-era change.

A House Republican aide said “we have no illusion” the Rules Committee will make the amendment in order, but there are other intentions behind the amendment.

“We want to have positive amendments so that perhaps leadership is or will be discouraged from making anti-LGBT amendments in order,” the aide said.

The House isn’t the only chamber of Congress where lawmakers are taking action on the transgender military ban. Last week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told the Washington Blade she intends to introduce a similar amendment against the policy to the Senate version of the defense bill.

Both Speier and Gilibrand have introduced standalone legislation against Trump’s transgender military ban and vigorously questioned in committee Defense Secretary James Mattis about his recommendation to ban transgender service, which formed the basis for the policy reaffirmed in March.

It should be noted despite the transgender military ban and efforts from lawmakers to undo it, federal courts have ruled against the policy as a result of litigation filed by LGBT legal groups and transgender people are currently able to serve in the armed forces.

An anti-trans amendment is also before the House Rules Committee. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an notoriously anti-LGBT lawmaker, has submitted a measure that would prohibit the authorization of U.S. government funds on “enforcing transgender sensitivity training.”


Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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