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Trump Military Ban Prompts Outrage     07/27 06:05

   Most LGBT-rights activists never believed Donald Trump's campaign promises 
to be their friend. But with his move Wednesday to ban transgender people from 
military service, on top of other actions and appointments, they now see him as 
openly hostile.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Most LGBT-rights activists never believed Donald Trump's 
campaign promises to be their friend. But with his move Wednesday to ban 
transgender people from military service, on top of other actions and 
appointments, they now see him as openly hostile.

   Leaders of major advocacy groups depicted Trump's Twitter pronouncement as 
an appeal to the portion of his conservative base that opposes the recent 
civil-rights gains by the LGBT community.

   "His administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ 
ideology within our government --- even if it means denying some of our bravest 
Americans the right to serve and protect our nation," said Sarah Kate Ellis, 
president of the LGBT-rights group GLAAD.

   Transgender service members have been able to serve openly since last year, 
after a move by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Trump's vow to end that 
policy was the latest, and perhaps the most stinging, of a string of actions 
since his election that have dismayed supporters of LGBT rights.

   Some examples:

   --- The administration rescinded federal guidance advising school districts 
to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. 
It said state and local officials should decide the issue.

   --- Several of Trump's high-level appointees have solid records as opponents 
of LGBT-rights advances, including Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General 
Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

   --- At Trump's direction, Sessions is developing new guidance on religious 
liberty for federal agencies that is expected to make it easier for people with 
religious objections to refuse to recognize LGBT rights.

   --- The Department of Justice on Wednesday filed an amicus brief in a case 
to which it's not a party, arguing that a federal civil-rights law doesn't 
cover sexual orientation. The case was filed in 2010, when a skydiving 
instructor sued his employer, saying he was fired for his sexual orientation in 
violation of the law.

   --- Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned, 
asserting that Trump "simply does not care" about combating HIV and AIDS as it 
continues to beset the LGBT community.

   The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group, depicted the 
Republican president's tweets Wednesday as a "heinous and disgusting" attack on 
transgender service members.

   "It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress 
and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political 
pawns," said the group's president, Chad Griffin.

   Trump's pronouncement was hailed by some conservatives who have long 
complained that the military was undermining its effectiveness by allowing 
gays, lesbians and transgender people to serve openly. Opponents also have 
contended that the military should not bear the cost of any medical procedures 
related to gender transition.

   "Our troops shouldn't be forced to endure hours of transgender sensitivity 
classes and politically correct distractions like this one," said Tony Perkins, 
a former Marine who heads the conservative Family Research Council.

   Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender 
Equality, denounced Trump's declaration as "simple bigotry."

   "This attack has nothing to do with military readiness, reason or science," 
she said. "It is indefensible."

   Among those dismayed by Trump's tweets was Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, a 
transgender man who's served in the Navy for 11 years and received his latest 
promotion after the policy change last year.

   "Trans service members are continuing to do our jobs," Dremann said. "People 
know who we are now and it becomes personal, especially when you've got 
families that are going to be affected by this."

   Another active-duty transgender soldier, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, said she 
was concerned how a possible ban would affect her, her family and other 
transgender service members.

   "My command has told me in the past the only thing that we should 
discriminate on is job performance, and I hope that military leadership will 
handle this issue the same way," Peace said in an email.

   Capt. Jacob Eleazer, a transgender man who serves in the Kentucky Army 
National Guard, said he was stunned by Trump's action.

   "Fired by tweet. It was honestly pretty shocking," said Eleazer, who took 
the day off from his job as a therapist in Lexington, Kentucky, to assess the 
situation.

   It's unclear whether Eleazer's career will be affected.

   Eleazer, 31, has been in the military since 2006. In 2014, he told his 
superior officer he was transgender, and he got full support.

   Attorney Sasha Buchert, a transgender woman who works for the LGBT-rights 
group Lambda Legal, recalled feelings of fear and isolation while serving in 
the Marines in the 1980s, decades before her gender transition.

   "It's not a question of whether transgender people will serve," she said. 
"It's a question of whether they'll be serving openly or will be hiding like 
they did in the old days."

   Another transgender veteran, retired Army Col. Sheri Swokowski, said it's 
important for transgender people and their allies to push back against Trump's 
decree.

   Swokowski, 67, of Windsor, Wisconsin, transitioned to female after retiring 
from the military in 2004.

   "The military has taught us to fight and this administration shouldn't be 
surprised when we do," she said. "We need to impress upon the administration 
that we're not living in the dark ages."


(KA)

 
 
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