Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is leading an effort to stop President Donald Trump’s ban on trans people in the military, as bills are filed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The US Supreme Court recently ruled that Trump’s policy banning transgender people from serving in the US armed forces can go ahead, while legal action on the issue continues.
In the wake of the decision, lawmakers have brought forward two bills in Congress seeking to avert the ban, which Trump first announced over Twitter in 2017.
Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Senate version of the bill, which is co-sponsored by Republican Senator Susan Collins, and Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democratic member of the Armed Services Committee.
A parallel bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Jackie Speier.
However it is in the Senate, where the Republicans have a 53-47 majority, where the legislation may face a rough ride.
A similar bill in the 2017 session of Congress also attracted support from late Republican Senator John McCain.
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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand vows to block Trump transgender troop ban
In a release, Senator Gillibrand, who is running for president in 2020, said: “President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military.
“The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have all testified to Congress that transgender service members are serving in our military without any problems. We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country.”
“We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs.”
— Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
LGBT campaigners welcome ‘crucial’ bill to oppose transgender troop ban
The bills have been welcomed by LGBT+ and civil rights campaigners.
Ian Thompson of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said: “We must fight the Trump administration’s effort to implement their discriminatory and unconstitutional ban on military service by transgender people on all fronts. This new bipartisan legislation would stop this bigoted ban once and for all.
“Transgender service members, like those represented by the ACLU in our legal challenge, have proven that they have the courage and capacity to serve in our nation’s armed forces. Members of Congress who oppose this ban must act to make sure the administration cannot implement it.”
Sarah McBride of Human Rights Campaign added: “No qualified service member or recruit should be denied the opportunity to serve their country because of their gender identity.
“A bipartisan chorus of members of Congress and an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s transgender troop ban.
“This legislation would help ensure that transgender service members and enlistees are respected and protected under the law, and we thank Senators Gillibrand, Collins, and Reed for their steadfast leadership on this critical issue.”