President Barack Obama has been very supportive when it comes to the LGBT community, especially over the past two years. He is showing more signs of that support recently, talking of lifting the ban on “transgender citizens serving in the military.” This ban has been in effect for a long time, but President Obama says it’s time for a change.
According to reports, Ash Carter, U.S. Secretary of Defense, spoke at a troop event in Afghanistan on Sunday. The speech took place in Kandahar with Carter speaking out on his support for transgenders being allowed to serve in the military.
Carter said in a statement: “I’m very open-minded about … what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That’s the important criteria. Are they going to be excellent service members? And I don’t think anyone but their suitability for service should preclude them.”
On Monday, the following day after Carter’s speech, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest unveiled to the media that President Obama is in agreement with Carter’s thoughts on transgender soldiers.
“The President agrees that the sentiment that all Americans who are qualified to serve should be able to serve. And for that reason, we here at the White House welcome the comments from the Secretary of Defense. But in terms — of additional steps that the Department of Defense will take to address this matter, I’d refer you to the secretary’s office.”
The current military policy bans transgenders from joining the military. However, there is no official law that is geared towards transgenders serving. Other policies like Dont Ask, Dont Tell, which banned openly gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens from serving in the military, were official laws that needed to be enforced.
With that being said, there is no congressional action needed to change the military policy. Obama and the White House are hoping that their support towards transgenders serving in the military will encourage the military to follow suit and change the policy.
A Pentagon spokesperson, Nate Christensen, stated that as of right now, there is “no specific review of the department’s transgender policy” happening. He did state that there is a “routine review” of “medical standards that include the transgender service ban had begun in early February.”
Last year, Obama proudly addressed that a significant amount of progress is being made to grant members of the LGBT community more rights.
“Because of your help, we’ve gone further in protecting the rights of lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender Americans than any administration in history.”