Connecticut Gov. Signs Order Against Discrimination of Service Members - NBC Bay Area
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Connecticut Gov. Signs Order Against Discrimination of Service Members

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    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended a new Trump administration policy banning transgender service members from the military, saying it was an "expensive and disruptive" policy. (Published Wednesday, July 26, 2017)

    Soon after President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military "in any capacity," elected officials from Connecticut are condemning the ban and Gov. Dannel Malloy said he signed an executive order Wednesday reinforcing the state's nondiscrimination policies within the Connecticut Military Department.

    Malloy’s order directs the Connecticut National Guard, the Connecticut Air National Guard and the other armed forces of the state to take no action that discriminates against service members in enlistment, promotion, or any other aspect of their service, on the basis of their gender identity or expression, unless superseded by federal law, regulation, or formal directive from the U.S. Department of Defense, according to Malloy’s office.

    He said it also directs the Connecticut Military Department to review existing personnel policies and any formal directive from the Department of Defense or other federal entity, whether issued today or in the future, to ensure that service members are afforded the maximum protection and the greatest opportunity to serve our state and nation, regardless of their gender identity or expression, and to minimize any discriminatory impact on service members from any federal directive.

    Lawmakers have been responding all day after Trump’s Tweets this morning.

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    In a series of tweets on July 26, President Donald Trump said transgender people are no longer allowed in the military. In the past, Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, have promoted their support of the LGBT community.

    (Published Wednesday, July 26, 2017)

    U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro Tweeted, “Discrimination isn’t patriotic. Members of our armed services deserve better than Pres Trump’s shameful transgender ban.”

    “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” Trump said in a series of Tweets.

    The president's Tweet did not say what would happen to transgender people who are already in the military.

    There are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon's personnel system, according to several defense officials.

    The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops. A RAND study found that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active duty military, and another 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.

    U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.

    “Anyone who wants to and is qualified to serve in our military should be able to do so, period. Discrimination should have no place in our Armed Forces,” Murphy said in a statement. “There are thousands of members of the transgender community who are currently bravely and ably serving our country today. I’ll work with my colleagues to overturn this hateful policy.”

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal also issued a statement.

    “Servicemembers should be accepted on the basis of their ability to fight, train, and deploy without discrimination. Many transgender Americans have served honorably and capably – and countless others are serving now and would seek to serve in the future. President Trump should be thanking these servicemembers and veterans for their dedication and commitment to our nation instead of barring them from service. This rash and surprising Tweet contradicts the Department of Defense’s previous policy decision to allow transgender servicemembers to serve openly, and constitutes official discrimination,” Blumenthal said.

    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney released a statement, calling the president's statement "the height of irresponsibility."

    “The president’s statement also flies in the face of the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, who just yesterday called for equal treatment of qualified and well-trained service members regardless of gender identity. Since our nation eliminated racial segregation in the military 69 years ago today, the United States has expanded opportunity for more Americans, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, to wear our nation’s uniform. This order is a clear reversal of that legacy which fundamentally recognizes that it is in our nation’s best interest to find the “best and brightest,” Courtney said in a statement.

    “Furthermore, the president’s use of the phrase ‘my generals’ when referring to the senior commanders of the United States Armed Forces flies in the face of our democratic norms and institutions. This is a nation of laws, not rulers. While the president is the Commander in Chief of the military, military leaders do not serve him alone. They took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution, not any one person,” Courtney added.

    Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman issued a joint statement earlier today in response to the president and Malloy called the president’s announcement “ignorant and profoundly troubling.”

    “President Trump’s announcement that he plans to ban transgender individuals from serving in our military is ignorant and profoundly troubling. The reality is that a person’s gender identity or expression has nothing to do with their willingness or ability to defend our nation,” Malloy said in a statement.

    “Any able person who wishes to serve in the military should have that right – regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. In recent years, our military has made great strides to be more inclusive. The President’s announcement sends a frightening signal to the public that our government condones discrimination and raises serious questions about what other advancements towards inclusion in the military may also be in jeopardy,” Malloy went on to say.

    The governor said Connecticut will not abandon transgender individuals.

    “This is a wrong-minded and harmful policy and we will explore our options for what can be done to stop it,” Malloy said in his statement.

    Lt. Gov. Wyman added that “excluding citizens from public service is not a strong or decent foundation for policy-making of any kind, and government especially should represent the people it serves.”

    She went on to call the policy “reckless and dangerous.”

    “Connecticut supports its LGBTQ residents, we expect Washington to as well. I urge the President to instead focus his time and energy in service to the values of the American people, our economy, and our standing as a world leader,” Wyman said in a statement.