Trump: ‘Doing the Military a Great Favor’ with Transgender Troop Ban

President Trump said Thursday he is “doing the military a great favor” by banning transgender people from serving in the armed forces.

“I have great respect for the community,” Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “I think I’ve had great support, or I’ve had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes. It’s been a very complicated issue for the military, it’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”

Trump announced the sudden shift in military policy last month in a series of tweets.

“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,” Trump tweeted at the time.

“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”

The announcement sparked immediate criticism, including from top Republican senators and dozens of retired generals and admirals.

Two LGBTQ rights groups announced Wednesday that they would sue Trump over the ban, claiming claim the president’s July tweets announcing plans to reverse the Department of Defense’s policy on transgender service members violates the equal protection component of the due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment.

[The Hill]

Trump Says Transgender People Can’t Serve In Military

President Trump has announced that the government will not allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, he wrote:

“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”

Transgender people already serve in the military. It’s not immediately clear how Trump intends to implement the ban, but the Pentagon announced Wednesday that it will defer enlistments by transgender applicants.

“Secretary [James] Mattis today approved a recommendation by the services to defer accessing transgender applicants into the military until Jan. 1, 2018,” Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement. “The services will review their accession plans and provide input on the impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces.”

In June 2016, then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender service members.

As NPR’s Merrit Kennedy reported then, Carter said the key reason for the change was “that the Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now — the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”

The move was an acknowledgement of the transgender people already in the military. Carter said RAND researchers estimated that “about 25,000 people out of approximately 825,000 reserve service members are transgender, with the upper end of their range of estimates of around 7,000 in the active component and 4,000 in the reserves.”

Trump’s announcement will likely be seen as running counter to a tweet he posted in 2016, in which Trump thanked the LGBT community. “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” he pledged.

The Human Rights Campaign immediately tweeted its disapproval of Trump’s announcement. “Threatening 15K currently serving troops who put their lives at risk is unpatriotic and dangerous,” the LGBTQ rights organization said.

[NPR]

“As a presidential candidate, President Trump said that he “will do everything” to protect LGBT communities from violence, during his speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Speaks to ‘Hate Group’ Behind Closed Doors

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave an off-camera speech behind closed doors on Tuesday. As announced on his public schedule, Sessions addressed a crowd at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California.

As the news of the scheduled speech traveled, nonprofit advocacy groups and Democrats issued statements asking why the head of the U.S. Department of Justice was speaking at a meeting of a “hate group” — a designation bestowed upon Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016.

“You can judge a person by the company they keep and tonight – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is choosing to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” Democratic Party spokesperson Joel Kasnetz wrote in a statement emailed to NBC News. “Sessions’ appearance at this event, as the top law enforcement official in the country, brings into question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans.”

NBC News asked the Justice Department for comment on the public outcry but did not receive a response. An additional request for comment sent to Alliance Defending Freedom did not receive a reply.

ADF is essentially a powerhouse Christian law firm, defending clients like Masterpiece Cakeshop, the bakery taking its refusal to make a same-sex wedding cake all the way to the Supreme Court. But with millions in its war chest, ADF does more than just litigate: The firm wrote model legislation called the Student Physical Privacy Act that built a foundation for dozens of proposals and policies around the country that are frequently referred to as “bathroom bills.” ADF’s model legislation, and the national trend that stems from it, is aimed at keeping transgender people out of restrooms and other private facilities that correspond to their gender identity and presentation.

Founded in 1994, the Alliance Defending Freedom was a coalition effort between conservative Christian leaders aiming to preserve traditional social norms, restrict access to abortion and fight the “homosexual agenda.” Much of the firm’s early work came in the form of court briefs urging states to keep anti-gay sodomy laws on the books and in fighting attempts to legalize same-sex marriage. After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2003, ADF issued an official statement deriding the “radical homosexual” state policy.

“Radical homosexual activists have made their intentions clear – ‘couples’ will now converge on Massachusetts, ‘marry,’ and return to their respective states and file lawsuits to challenge Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) and try to force the states to recognize their ‘marriages.’ We are disappointed but we’re going to continue the fight state by state,” longtime ADF president Alan Sears wrote at the time.

The list of anti-LGBTQ remarks by ADF co-founders is long; James C. Dobson wrote an entire book about the gay “culture war” in 2004’s “Marriage Under Fire.” But after a Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal across America, ADF pivoted away from a now-futile fight and toward a new goal: keeping transgender people out of bathrooms.

In April, ADF attorney Kellie Fiedorek disputed the idea that the firm’s model legislation — and general motivation — is anti-LGBTQ or harmful to the rights of transgender people.

“The bills protecting privacy are simply ensuring that when it comes to intimate facilities, they are simply limiting them to biological sex. We all have a right to privacy,” Fiedorek said. “Even if you believe you are a man, a woman shouldn’t have to undress in front of you.”

In response to ADF being designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Fiedorek said the latter was “increasingly irrelevant” and “extreme,” saying ADF was the world’s “largest religious freedom legal advocacy organization.”

SPLC’s Heidi Beirich, though, told NBC News in April her organization doesn’t recklessly toss around the hate group label and had good reason to classify ADF as such a group.

“We don’t put a group on the hate list because they are against gay marriage,” Beirich said. “Where the rubber hits the road is when ADF attorneys engage in model legislation and litigation that attacks the LGBT community.”

The Attorney General’s own track record on LGBTQ issues has been cause for concern among LGBTQ advocates, too. When Sessions was confirmed in February, Lambda Legal executive director Rachel Tiven called it a “travesty,” while Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality said the confirmation marked a “deeply distressing day for civil rights.”

[NBC News]

Trump Flip-Flops on North Carolina Transgender Bathroom Bill

Donald Trump answers questions on transgender bathroom use.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is tweaking his stance on North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law less than a day after he voiced his opposition to the legislation and suggested the state should just “leave it the way it is.”

“I love North Carolina, and they have a law, and it’s a law that, you know, unfortunately is causing them some problems,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview Thursday night. “And I fully understand that they want to go through, but they are losing business, and they are having people come out against.”

“I think that local communities and states should make the decision,” he went on to say. “And I feel very strongly about that. The federal government should not be involved.”

“In other words, let the state decide,” Hannity responded. “Kind of like your positions on education, give it back to the states.”

“Yeah, let them decide,” Trump said. “Absolutely.”

Reality

Trump has been flip-flopping on more and more issues lately. This is probably because he caught heat from the far-right wing of the Republican party for not being as insensitive as he usually is.

The North Carolina bathroom bill is a solution in search of a problem. There have been 0 reported cases of sexual assault by transgender individuals in public bathrooms. Coincidentally there have been 3 cases of Republican lawmakers arrested for sexual assault in a public bathroom.

Trump: Transgender People Can Use Whatever Bathroom They Want

Donald Trump answers questions on transgender bathroom use.

Transgender people should be able to use whatever bathroom they want, Donald Trump said Thursday.

“Oh, I had a feeling that question was going to come up, I will tell you. North Carolina did something that was very strong. And they’re paying a big price. There’s a lot of problems,” the Republican presidential candidate said during a town hall event on NBC’s “Today.”

Referring to comments from an unnamed commentator who on Wednesday said North Carolina should “leave it the way it is right now,” Trump said he agreed.

“Leave it the way it is. North Carolina, what they’re going through with all the business that’s leaving, all of the strife — and this is on both sides. Leave it the way it is,” he said, referring to companies that have canceled plans to move or expand businesses in the state as a result of the law, which bans transgender individuals from using a bathroom that does not match their gender at birth.

“There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go. They use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate,” Trump said. “There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic — I mean, the economic punishment that they’re taking.”

Matt Lauer then asked whether Trump has any transgender people working for his company.

“I really don’t know. I probably do. I really don’t know,” Trump said, answering that he would allow, say, transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner to use whatever bathroom she wanted at Trump Tower.

He added, “You know, there’s a big move to create new bathrooms. Problem with that is for transgender, that would be—first of all, I think that would be discriminatory in a certain way. That would be unbelievably expensive for businesses in the country. Leave it the way it is.”

(h/t Politico, Today)

Reality

Trump has been a little more progressive with LGBT rights in the past, for example allowing Jenna Talackova to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant, but he also is not progressive, in the same interview telling a joke comparing her name to “genitals”. He also supported amending the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However it is important to remember that Trump still supports traditional marriage.

Ted Cruz directly responded to Trump’s comments in a very Ted Cruz way.

Media