Here’s some good news: For the second time since his Inauguration, President Donald J. Trump did not renew President Barack Obama’s annual declaration of LGBT Pride Month in June. The Department of Defense, therefore, did not sponsor a divisive special interest event for gay and transgender activists and personnel at the Pentagon, which the Obama Administration used as an excuse to promote LGBT causes every June since 2009.
President Trump’s decision to discontinue controversial LGBT Pride events suggests that he intends to deliver on his promise to end extreme political correctness in our military. This is consistent with the administration’s 2017 decision to revoke controversial Obama-era “guidance” for public schools, which some states interpreted as a mandate to abandon gender-separation in private facilities for boys and girls.
Due to similar concerns about privacy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed President Obama’s last-minute decision to impose transgender ideology on federal prisons. In January 2017, Obama directed prison officials to allow biological males who claimed a female “gender identity” to move into prisons designated for female inmates.
These and many other controversies related to LGBT Left intolerance of anyone who disagrees with them for any reason have been among the most controversial in the nation. Continuing the Pride Month fest at the Pentagon and in other government agencies would have invited even more division, well beyond the religious liberty and personal privacy controversies that have torn communities apart in the civilian world as well as the military.
Trump’s policy also honors commitments made in several planks of the 2016 Republican National Platform. The document that delegates approved in Cleveland stated, “We believe that our nation is most secure when the president and the administration prioritize readiness, recruitment, and retention rather than using the military to advance a social or political agenda. . . . We affirm the cultural values that encourage selfless service and superiority in battle, and oppose anything which might divide or weaken team cohesion, including intra-military special interest demonstrations.”
During the Obama years, LGBT Pride events at the Pentagon and many military bases nationwide were used to promote advancement of increasingly controversial agenda goals. After Congress repealed the 1993 law regarding gays in the military in 2010, (Section 654, Title 10), LGBT Law administrative policies were imposed incrementally.
Prior to that vote, which had failed twice before passage during the 2010 lame-duck session, Obama Administration officials denied that repeal of the 1993 statute would advance transgender demands on the military. As CMR predicted, this was one of several promises to Congress that were meant to be broken.
A few weeks after passage, the Obama Administration reversed its previously-claimed opposition to same-sex marriages on military bases and full benefits for same-sex couples. In 2015, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter unilaterally extended special civil rights status and medical benefits regardless of gender identity.
In 2016, Secretary Carter announced that persons identifying as transgender or suffering from gender dysphoria would be fully eligible to serve, and transgender recruits could join the following year. Carter did not seek the opinions of military leaders, despite concerns about medical issues and non-deployability.
This was not enough for the National Center for Transgender Equality, which told the AP that the Department of Defense should extend subsidies for transgender medical treatments and surgeries not just to military members, but to their dependents, including minor children who express confusion about gender identity.
The Hill has also reported that Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center are demanding expensive benefits for veterans seeking transgender surgeries. Absent intervention by the Trump Administration, LGBT activists would continue to use the government-funded lobbying festivals to promote demands such as these and many more, on an incremental basis.
The Trump Administration has resisted these pressures, approving new military transgender policies that Defense Secretary James Mattis recommended on March 23, 2018. Following an extensive study of costs and consequences of retaining Obama-era mandates, Secretary Mattis recommended sound directives that assign priority to military effectiveness, not political goals.
President Trump’s policy has not been implemented, however, due to litigation filed by LGBT activists who expected to be feted by the President they are suing.
Starting in the Fall of 2017, four federal judges issued preliminary injunctions overriding President Trump’s policies regarding military recruits or service members who identify as transgender or suffer from gender dysphoria. This has occurred even though federal district judges have no constitutional power to run the military. Appeals are working their way through several jurisdictions, and likely will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the same way that our military does not allow labor unions or political demonstrations in the Pentagon or military bases, activist events promoting LGBT causes and demands should not be permitted. The Department of Defense should not feel obligated to host and subsidize lobbying fests for ideological pressure groups, including the LGBT Left.
Elaine Donnelly is President of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent, non-partisan public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military/social issues. More information is available on the CMR website, www.cmrlink.org