A group of 42 Democratic senators, one Republican and one independent have written to Defense Secretary James Mattis and urged him to tell President Donald Trump not to implement a ban on transgender military troops.
The letter, written by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, states that a ban, which was announced by Trump on Twitter earlier this week, would be "cruel and discriminatory."
"We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it. This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation," it reads.
"Transgender Americans who serve in our military put their lives on the line to protect America … Forcing these brave Americans out of our military would be cruel and discriminatory.
"It would harm our readiness by denying the military of these service members' capabilities and requiring the military to replace them at a time when the recruiting pool for the services continues to shrink."
As well, the letter says, the ban will "harm morale in the military as service members see their brothers and sisters in arms — some of whom are currently forward deployed — thrown out simply because of their identity."
It continues: "And the uncertainty associated with making policy this way is already harming our military readiness and morale, as transgender service members and their superiors struggle to make sense of the policy and what it means for them today and tomorrow.
Any American who wants to serve and meets the standards should be allowed to serve our country. Transgender service members are serving with honor and distinction today and we ask that you, as our Secretary of Defense, assure them that their service will not be ended simply because of who they are."
The letter is signed by Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Christopher Coons of Delaware, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jeffrey Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Gary Peters of Michigan, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Chuck Schumer of New York, Jeanne Shaheen (D- N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester of Montana.
The lone Republican signing is Susan Collins of Maine. The lone independent is Bernard Sanders of Vermont.
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