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Warner, Kaine urge Mattis not to implement transgender military service ban

U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, sent a bipartisan letter signed by 42 additional Senators to Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis urging him to advise the President against implementing the announcement he made via Twitter Wednesday that transgender Americans can no longer serve in the military.

lgbtThis announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and unnecessarily singles out transgender service members.

“We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”

Transgender service members have been serving openly since the policy was changed in June 2016; no military branch has reported any issues associated with their service.

Senators Warner, Kaine and Gillibrand were joined by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D- CT), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D- CA), Al Franken (D-MN),  Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), Martin T. Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D- MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I- VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full text of the Senators’ joint letter is included here