March 21, 2019 at 5:47 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Hoyer announces House vote March 28 against Trump’s trans military ban
Steny Hoyer, gay news, Washington Blade
U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has set a vote on a resolution against the trans military ban next week. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Thursday a vote would take place on the House floor next on a resolution against President Trump’s transgender military ban.

Hoyer, the No. 2 in the Democratic caucus, said in a statement the vote for take place on Thursday, March 28, which is days before the ban is set to take effect on April 12.

“President Trump’s ban on transgender Americans who are serving or wish to serve their country is discriminatory, and the House will vote next week to reject it and call on the Department of Defense to not reinstate it,” Hoyer said. “Not only does it denigrate the service of patriots serving in the military, but it weakens our national security by undermining our ability to recruit and retain the talented personnel we need.”

The introduction of the non-binding resolution was first reported by the Washington Blade last month. The measure, which is non-binding, was introduced by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), chair of the Congressional Transgender Task Force, and rejects the Trump’s transgender ban as a discriminatory policy based on junk science.

The resolution cites Trump’s 2017 tweet pledging to ban transgender people from military service “in any capacity” as well as the implementation plan from former Defense Secretary James Mattis, which critics say relies on junk science in its justification for Trump’s policy.

The House “strongly opposes” Trump’s ban, the resolution says, and rejects “the flawed scientific and medical claims” in the Mattis implementation plan that justify it. Additionally, the resolution urges the Pentagon to refuse to instate Trump’s ban and to “maintain an inclusive policy allowing qualified transgender Americans to enlist and serve in the armed forces.”

Kennedy in a statement said his resolution affirms the United States “is founded on the promise that we are all created equal,” adding “our march towards that ultimate goal of lived and legal equality is being led by transgender service members who volunteer to fight for our nation and its promise.”

“By implementing a ban that ignores basic science, the sworn testimony of military leadership and mountains of research, our president and his enablers will inject intolerance into our military, demean their sacrifice and cast doubt on our commitment to that promise,” Kennedy said. “This resolution says to the thousands of trans servicemembers keeping us safe and every other American that their government not only sees them, hears them, and fights with them, but that they count in this country.”

According to the San Francisco-based Palm Center, an estimated 14,700 transgender people are currently serving in the armed forces.

Hoyer brings the resolution to the floor after the Defense Department unveiled plans to begin the transgender military ban on April 12. Although under the policy transgender troops currently in the armed forces are expected to be able to stay, a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and or obtaining transition-related care will be disqualifying for transgender people to enlist. Troops not grandfathered in who obtained a diagnosis of gender dysphoria at a later time will be also be discharged.

The Kennedy resolution, which has 191 co-sponsors, is likely to succeed on the House floor with Democrats in the majority. In the previous Congress, even when the House was under a Republican control, an amendment from Rep. Vicky Hartlzer (R-Mo.) seeking to bar the U.S. military from paying for transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery, failed to garner enough votes to make it as part of the annual defense authorization bill.

Kennedy’s resolution isn’t the only congressional action against the ban. New legislation introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) in the House and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the Senate seeks to codify openly transgender military service. During a House hearing on the transgender policy last month, Speier told the Blade she’d seek to include proposed her legislation as an amendment to the upcoming defense authorization bill.

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

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