President Trump told military leaders that there is no room for prejudice, bigotry or hate in the United States — roughly a month after banning transgender servicemen and -women from the Armed Forces.
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, told Yahoo News Tuesday that Trump’s appeal to tolerance in his speech the night before was “laughable” in light of the policies of his administration.
“It’s downright laughable for President Trump to call for a ‘love of all people’ when his administration has repeatedly tried to move policies that discriminate and to promote prejudice against LGBTQ Americans and other marginalized communities,” she said. “From trying to ban transgender troops who just want to serve this country to filling his administration with known anti-LGBTQ activists, Trump’s words are disingenuous and embody fake news.”
The commander in chief’s comments came toward the beginning of a speech outlining his strategy for military operations in Afghanistan and South Asia. He took a few moments to praise the men and women of the military for transcending “every line of race, ethnicity, creed and color to serve together.”
“The soldier understands what we, as a nation, too often forget: that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together,” Trump said at the Fort Myer Army base, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery.
“Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people. When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.”
Just weeks earlier, Trump announced that the U.S. government would not accept transgender people to “serve in any capacity” in the military. He said the Armed Forces could not bother with “the tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender people while focusing on military victory.
The announcement elicited immediate backlash, including from transgender Navy SEAL veteran Kristin Beck, and left unresolved procedural questions, such as how this would affect transgender servicemen and -women currently deployed.
Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick, a defense spokesman at the Pentagon, told Yahoo News that the Department of Defense “is still awaiting guidance from the White House, and there is no change in the policy at this time.” He referred to a statement made last month by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the president. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance. In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford said. “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”
According to the Palm Center, a public policy think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, discharging transgender troops would actually wind up costing the military an estimated $960 million. The researchers arrived at this figure by multiplying the number of current transgender service members (12,800) by the average per-person cost of recruiting and training replacements ($75,000).
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