On Wednesday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to announce that he plans to ban transgender individuals from the military. The declaration came in a series of tweets, spaced a few minutes apart, after Trump stated that he “consulted his generals and military experts.”
In June of 2016, the Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving in the armed services. In a statement at that time, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said:
Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.
While pundits and network anchors scrambled to throw in their opinions and explain the history of the LGBT community in the military, the internet resurrected a tweet from June of 2016. In the heat of election season, Trump promised to fight for the LGBT community.
That tweet was resurrected by a number of journalists and pundits, including Kyle Griffin, a producer for MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” who noted, “This tweet hasn’t aged very well.”
Congressmen Adam Schiff, who co-chairs the House Intelligence Committee and was called “sleazy” by Trump on Tuesday, tweeted that the statement was “ugly and wrong,” declaring, “Discrimination isn’t patriotic.”
CNN brought on Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) who seemed to push back on the tweets, saying, “I think you ought to treat everybody fairly, and you ought to give everybody a chance to serve.”
Alex Morash, a leading LGBT journalist in Washington, D.C., wrote, “The president’s actions are a disgrace. He dishonors so many who have pledged to defend this country.”
In a statement, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation expressed outrage. CEO Sarah Kate Ellis stated, “President Trump today issued a direct attack on transgender Americans, and his administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government — even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation.”
Many Trump supporters stood behind the president. Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and one of the more infamous figureheads of the alt-right, shot off a sarcastic tweet.