Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has joined forces with Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in backing a bipartisan bill that would block President Trump’s transgender military ban, prohibiting the Pentagon from involuntarily separating from or denying the re-enlistments of currently serving transgender troops solely on the basis of gender identity while also requiring Defense Secretary James Mattis to complete the study of recruitment and training of transgender recruits.
“When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country,” McCain said in a statement.
“Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve—including those who are transgender,” he said.
Gillibrand and Collins earlier introduced the bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, however it was denied a vote.
“Despite being denied a vote on my bipartisan amendment to defend our transgender service members, we are not giving up in this fight,” Gillibrand said in a statement Friday.
“Thousands of brave transgender Americans love our country enough to risk their lives for it, fight for it, and even die for it, and Congress should honor them and let them serve,” she said. “Doing otherwise would only harm our readiness at a time when our military is deployed around the world in defense of our country.”
The Hill added:
Four lawsuits have been filed against the ban, three of which are seeking an immediate halt while the cases work their way through the courts.
In a statement Friday, Reed accused Trump of manufacturing a crisis for political purposes.
“Transgender service members deployed today are serving with honor and distinction,” Reed said.
“The last thing they need while serving in a combat zone is to worry about being involuntarily separated,” he continued. “Congress needs to act on a bipartisan basis to do what is best for our country and national security, and that includes overturning President Trump’s poorly conceived transgender ban.”
Collins said that anyone who is willing to serve should be able to do so.
“Our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” Collins said in a statement. “If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to kick them out of the military.”