SACRAMENTO, CA, July 31, 2017 – Last week, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with 18 fellow Attorneys General, sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to add language to the federal National Defense Authorization Act that would explicitly prohibit discrimination against transgender persons who currently serve in or wish to join the U.S. military. The letter was sent to Senators John McCain and Jack Reed and Congressmembers Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith, the Chairs and Ranking Members of the United States Senate’s and House of Representative’s Armed Services Committees. The letter requests that the Senators and Congressmembers join the Attorneys General in opposing President Trump’s recent announcement of a policy to ban transgender individuals from the United States Armed Forces.
In the letter, the Attorneys General emphasize that President Trump’s announced policy is not only blatantly discriminatory, but would marginalize transgender individuals who make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of our country.
“When someone makes the decision to devote his or her life in defense of our freedom and security, the last thing we should do is discriminate against that person,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The United States Armed Forces have long been associated with honor, dignity, and respect in the fight to advance equality and justice at home and abroad. President Trump aims to change that by taking the military down a discriminatory path rooted in malicious bias towards members of our LGBTQ community. There is neither honor, dignity nor respect in that.”
Last week, the highest-ranking member of the United States military, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford, released a statement to military leaders explaining there would be no modifications to existing policy until President Trump could provide further direction to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The U.S. Department of Defense further clarified that the office was awaiting formal guidance from the White House and would continue defending the nation while treating service members with respect.
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Last month, Attorney General Becerra joined an amicus brief in support of transgender rights for veterans in the case Fulcher v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The brief defends a veteran’s right to health care coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs for medically necessary care, including sex reassignment surgery.
Attorney General Becerra was joined on the letter by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
A copy of the letter sent to Senators McCain and Reed and Congressmembers Thornberry and Smith is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.