Most of us were a little taken back when President Trump announced that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to enlist or serve in the military at the end of last month. Although the President said he had consulted with the Defense Department, the military leaders were blindsided by the President’s announcement, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, informed service members that there would be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s directive had been officially received and reviewed. This is but another example of the random acts of bigotry that we have seen too often since President Trump took office.
President Trump tweeted:
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Even those within the GOP were taken by surprise, “I think they realize they made a mistake,” Said John McCain. “I think generally speaking, it’s accepted you consult the secretary of defense before you make a decision that has to do with defending the nation. Mattis (United States Secretary of Defense) was going through a study that they’d done for six months, and he had just extended it. I know what Mattis said, that he wanted to complete the study, and he was surprised.”
While Trump might have surprised his Defense Secretary, his actions speak of a wider attitude that is pervading the US, namely that it is okay to be intolerant. Much has been written disproving the president’s claims of massive military spending on medical costs for transgender individuals, and, to date, nothing has been implemented to enforce the ban. The only result of the move by Trump to ban transgender in the military has been to make those opposed to LGBTQ issues more forceful and bold in their attempts to discriminate against LGBTQ issues.
What we should be looking at with this and with other actions and words from the president is the free reign this type of rhetoric gives those to act on their bigotry towards the LGBTQ community. Just as his lack of action and equivocating has given the White Supremacists the courage to crawl out from under their rocks, so has this tweet endangered the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Naperville is home to the headquarters for the Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH), a national organization “directed exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda.” AFTAH publishes articles decrying the LGBTQ community and praises the rollbacks of the protections for our LGBTQ youth at their schools. In addition, in the Illinois General Assembly there is a bill (SB0064), the “Religious Freedom Defense Act” whose purpose is to prohibit “ the State and local governments from taking discriminatory action against a person if the person believes or acts under a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is only between one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. It would allow a person to assert a claim or defense under the Act in a judicial or administrative proceeding for damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or other appropriate relief against the State or local government. It also would allow the Attorney General to seek enforcement of the Act.” If this bill were to pass it would give businesses the “right” to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and families.
This bill was introduced on January 11 by State Senator Kyle McCarter (R – Lebanon) and protects those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman from government action when they choose to discriminate. What freedoms would that give the bigots and small minded? The freedom to rip down a gay pride flag? The freedom to refuse to serve those openly LGBTQ members of our families?
The US census even had the questions that would count the LGBTQ community removed from the 2020 census stating that there was “no federal data needed” to count the number of LGBTQ in the United States. You count at Care.com and Indivisible Naperville will not allow the random acts of bigotry to go unnoticed. We will do our best to bring the LGBTQ issues to the forefront and to bring back random acts of kindness.
Teri Laliberte, Chairman
Human & Civil Rights Committee