Hours after President Donald Trump tweeted out a new policy of refusing to allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military “in any capacity,” Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) spoke out on CNN.
“I think you ought to treat everybody fairly and you ought to give everybody a chance to serve,” he said when asked about his stance on the transgender ban.
He did note, however, that he would “like to see the wording of his policy.”
Shelby said he expected the issue to be discussed in the Armed Services Committee as well as the Defense Appropriations Committee. “We’ll go from there,” he said.
“We are a nation at war,” it said. “I am confident that (Defense) Secretary (James) Mattis and DoD leadership can and will evaluate current personnel policy that will enable us to recruit, train, and equip an all-volunteer force. Any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet those standards should have the opportunity to do so.”
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) July 26, 2017
Luther Strange, the other senator from Alabama, issued a message in support of the ban, calling Trump’s concerns “well-founded” and saying, “The U.S. military is no place for social experiments” – a common refrain that was once echoed by supporters of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that banned gay people from serving in the military until it was ended in 2011.
According to a report from Politico, Trump’s sudden move to ban transgender people from serving in the military wasn’t brought on by any particular “concerns” about trans people serving. Instead, it was made because a congressional fight over funding for gender reassignment surgery threatened to derail funding for his border wall.
Other Republicans who spoke out against the ban included Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, Arizona Senator and former POW John McCain, and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst – a combat veteran.
Currently, around 6,000 transgender individuals actively serve in the U.S. military.