From ‘This is about bigotry’ to ‘I agree’ with Trump, Colorado reacts to the transgender military ban

“I plan on continuing to serve until someone tells me I can’t.”

From ‘This is about bigotry’ to ‘I agree’ with Trump, Colorado reacts to the transgender military ban

With Donald Trump’s hopes for a health care overhaul smoldering in Washington and a narrative of Republican dysfunction wafting from the beltway, the president was quickly able to change the conversation.

It came in a string of tweets early Wednesday morning.

“The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, which was still under final review, that would allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military,” CNN reported. “Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last month that he was delaying enactment of the plan to begin allowing transgender individuals to join the US military.”

About 15,000 transgender servicemen and women across the country currently serve in the military in some capacity. And it should be noted that the White House doesn’t currently have a detailed plan for how it will actually go through with banning transgender people from the armed forces.

Reaction to the news in Colorado was swift— and not all of the state’s Republican delegation are on the same page.

Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Windsor, who in 2008 became the first district attorney in the nation to prosecute the killing of a transgender woman as a hate crime, appeared to disagree with Trump.

“America needs a military comprised of patriots willing to sacrifice for this country,” Buck said in a statement to The Denver Post. “Any American who is physically and emotionally qualified should be allowed to serve.”

Buck’s position is at odds with Colorado Springs-area Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, who said, “I agree with the president’s decision.” There are “too many unanswered medical, housing, readiness, and deployment questions to allow the previous policies of the Obama administration to continue,” Lamborn said. “Our military must remain focused on fighting and winning conflicts and wars, any other considerations must remain secondary.”

KUSA 9News in Denver fact-checked Trump’s claim that military spending on transgender servicemen and women is “tremendous,” and found it not so. The military actually spends more to treat acne, the station reported.

Also in Colorado Springs, Staff Sgt. Patricia King, the first openly transgender soldier serving at the Army’s Fort Carson base wondered if she had just been “fired on Twitter.”

She told her local newspaper, The Gazette, that she’s been serving her country honorably for 18 years, and, “I plan on continuing to serve until someone tells me I can’t.”

George Brauchler, a colonel and JAG officer in the Colorado Army National Guard who is running for governor as a Republican, says no matter what Trump said on Twitter existing policy in the Army hasn’t changed— and he is committed to existing policy.

“I’ve been serving in uniform for over 20 years and I don’t know anybody I’ve served with that defines patriotism by somebody’s gender, gender identity [or] sexual orientation— I don’t think those things are relevant at all to the issue of patriotism and willingness and ability on an individual level to serve as a soldier, sailor or airman,” he said.

Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project told NBC the ACLU “is examining all of our options on how to fight this.”

The new policy united Colorado’s two U.S. senators, a Democrat and a Republican.

“Our commander-in-chief should not ban Americans who are qualified to serve in our military and are willing to risk their lives for our country,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. “This is an obvious attempt to distract from the Republicans’ disastrous debate on health care.”

Meanwhile, his GOP counterpart, Cory Gardner, said, “Anyone who wants to serve in our military and is capable and willing should be able to do so.”

Boulder-area Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, who is running for governor had this to say:

“This bigoted decision won’t make us any safer,” said Denver Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette. “Other countries have transgender service members – in fact, Israel has had them for years. Those serving in and out of uniform on behalf of the United States now will have to leave or keep secrets that put them at risk. This edict forces America backward, well before the questionable days of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ to the unjust era when service members stayed in the closet to avoid being persecuted or purged.”

She added:

Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter of Arvada said Trump’s decision “amounts to discrimination against brave soldiers trying to serve their country” and called it “wrong.”

Aurora-area Republican Congressman Mike Coffman took, well, a less direct approach in his response:

 

Photo by Jim Mattis for Creative Commons on Flickr.

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

4 Comments

  1. Toni W. on said:

    Trump and Bannon are succeeding in their mission to take America apart. Once simply fascists, they are now taking on the apparatus and attire of the Nazis. This transgender ban is also straight out of the Nazi playbook, including fabricated excuses…to wit, transpeople cost too much in medical needs….uh, not. People wounded and made into hamburger meat and those trying to overcome PTSD cost a helluva lot more than any trans costs. WAR is expensive, especially invasive empire wars. Those POS in drumpf’s circle are throwing out vicious diversion bait as they are getting closed in on about this sociopath’s vile connections and agenda.

  2. Will Morrison on said:

    The only reason Two Scoops is doing anything at all is to UNDO everything Obama ever did as president. He really is that lowdown and miserable. Obama is everything he ISN’T, and it drives him crazy. All of his executive orders, every law he is desperate to pass in spite of the damage they will do, it’s ALL about undoing everything Obama ever did. This man is unstable and clearly needs help. LOTS of it.

    Republicans, get your heads out and do the RIGHT thing for the COUNTRY and not just for your own party for a change. The call to get rid of him HAS to come from YOUR side of the aisle, there is NO power to do so on the left at this point. The longer you let this IDIOT stay in charge, the worse things are going to get and the longer it will take to undo the damage HE’S doing. DO THE RIGHT THING!

  3. Toni Aguilar on said:

    Will, you’re pointing out something that people may not really appreciate. A narcissist always has to prove he’s better than everyone else.

    Here’s a suggestion to find out more about “two scoops'” motivations—i.e., being manipulated by an incredibly evil person, Bannon. Watch today’s, Wednesday, episode of Democracy Now! You can get it online. Amazing info!

  4. JohnInDenver on said:

    Is Scott Tipton still holding his finger to to sense the political winds on this topic?

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