Two U.S. senators, who were responsible for pushing through the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation in 2010, have joined forces again to prevent the Defense Department from banning transgenders from serving in the military.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) issued a press release Monday, Sep. 11, announcing their new bipartisan effort “that would prevent the Department of Defense (DoD) from removing qualified service members from the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity.”
Gillibrand and Collins, along with 43 other senators, had already sent a letter in July to Defense Secretary James Mattis, requesting that he not discharge any transgender service members until the DoD completes its investigation into the matter.
Their new amendment would require Mattis to complete that review and report back to Congress.
The two senators included the following statements in their announcement:
“Any individual who wants to join our military and meets the standards should be allowed to serve, period. Gender identity should have nothing to do with it,” said Senator Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. “I am proud to work with Senator Collins to introduce our bipartisan amendment to protect transgender members of our Armed Forces, and I will always fight for our brave transgender troops who put their lives on the line to protect our country.”
“Our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” said Senator Collins. “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 exclude them from military service.”
Specific steps included in Collins and Gillibrand’s new amendment are:
- Express a sense to Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve;
- Prohibit DoD from involuntarily separating, or denying, the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the member’s gender identity;
- Require Secretary Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress.
Their announcement further states:
Senator Collins was the lead Republican in the successful effort to repeal the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in December 2010. Senator Gillibrand also helped lead the charge in the Senate to repeal this discriminatory, harmful policy to strengthen our military by building support for an 18-month moratorium on enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and securing a commitment from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin to hold a committee hearing on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in February 2010. This was the first Senate hearing on the policy since 1993 – a major step toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Senator Susan Collins was additionally in the news recently when she joined fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in voting “no” on the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare. In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash after the vote, they referred to themselves as “kindred spirits,” while Bash called them “heroes” for refusing to repeal Obamacare.
JUST IN: Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Susan Collins introduce bipartisan amendment to protect transgender service members: pic.twitter.com/KNvZ6Liw6w
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) September 11, 2017
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 11, 2017
Liberals are delighted with the news and are praising the senators’ proposal on Twitter.
@FlanaganNJTV Yes!! Progressive women leading the way! The future is female! !
— NJSpEdTeacher (@daschmidt883) September 12, 2017
— NothingButCrickets (@Listen2Crickets) September 12, 2017
— Carol Sussman (@carol33437) September 12, 2017
How is this for the ticket 2020 Senator Gillibrand and Senator Collins. I bet if they would consider running it would be lights for Trump!!
— Carol Sussman (@carol33437) September 11, 2017
there are A LOT of democrats who would vote for Senator Collins over Senator Sanders for potus I think
— atlasraf (@atlasraf) September 11, 2017
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