Trump’s war on transgender people serving in the military is under escalating attack. In April, the Pentagon reversed its policy and began requiring new enlistees to serve under their biological sex. While legal challenges to this transgender military ban are pending, recent developments show that more Americans, particularly Republicans, are shying away from embracing this shameful treatment of Americans who wish to serve their nation faithfully.
Last night, the House voted 243-183 in favor of an amendment to the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill that would block funding for Trump’s ban. With Mitch McConnell running things in the Senate, this bill is not likely to become law. But the vote is more than just a symbolic message of LGBTQ equality during Pride Month. It reveals that a growing number of Republican lawmakers are willing to go on record as opposing Trump’s unpopular ban.
A few months ago, in March, the House voted 238-185 in favor of a nonbinding resolution to condemn Trump’s transgender military policy. In addition to every Democrat, five Republicans supported the measure, including Reps. John Katko (the bill’s sole GOP co-sponsor), Brian Fitzpatrick, Trey Hollingsworth, Will Hurd and Tom Reed, while Rep. Justin Amash voted present. Last night’s House vote won nearly twice the GOP support, with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Tom Emmer, Anthony Gonzalez, as well as Amash, joining their colleagues in breaking with their party. (The bill lost the support of one Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson.)
Earlier this month, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the results of a poll it conducted in April, shortly after the new policy took effect. A clear majority of respondents, 62%, said they are more supportive of transgender rights than five years ago, while only 25% said they are now more opposed. But perhaps most significant is what the PRRI exposed about transgender support among Republicans. Nearly half of Republicans, 47%, now support transgender military service, up significantly from 37% when Trump took office. PRRI also noted that the results among Republican respondents were “identical” regardless of whether they supported Trump.
The Pentagon’s transgender military ban is a bigoted policy move that was promoted by a President who famously lied his way out of serving his country. Trump, whose party seemed to stand by him as he delighted in belittling Gold Star families and POWs, is now seeing foundational cracks emerge in GOP support for his transgender military policy. Although Trump’s hateful ban may remain in effect for now, it appears destined for the dustbin of history.