Thursday, January 25, 2018

Huff to Bring Transgender Veteran to State of the Union in Protest of Military Ban

Posted By on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 12:36 PM

click to enlarge Congressman Huffman at a town hall in Arcata. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Congressman Huffman at a town hall in Arcata.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman will bring transgender Marine Corps veteran and Fort Bragg resident Lynda Bengtsson-Davis to the State of the Union on Tuesday in an effort to send a message.

“As President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address, my message to him, to my constituents, and to America as whole is going to be: love trumps hate,” said Rep. Huffman. “President Trump clearly needs to hear this message.  From his anti-Muslim travel bans, to his slurs about other nations, the first year of the Trump presidency has been an unrelenting attack on core values — equality, tolerance, diversity and unity — that have helped make our country great. When our President tries to take us backward by turning Americans against each other and stoking culture wars, he must be confronted.”

Huffman points to Trump’s July decision, announced on Twitter (see below), to ban transgender people from serving in the military as one of the most “egregious examples” of his “discriminatory and counterproductive actions.” The ban, which reportedly ran counter to input and advice the president had received from national security advisors and military commanders, has been halted by a court challenge, allowing transgender individuals to continue to serve in the armed forces.

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For her part, Bengtsson-Davis said she was blown away by the president’s Twitter announcement.

“My personal feeling was that someone who never served a day in his life, whether in the military or public service, had the audacity to discredit my service and the service and sacrifice being made by a specific population of the American people was unbelievable,” she said in a press release from Huffman’s office. “This whole argument about transgender people in the military is just recycled garbage and it’s the same argument that was used for why African Americans shouldn’t serve, why Native Americans shouldn’t serve, why women shouldn’t serve, why gays and lesbians shouldn’t serve, and now why transgender people shouldn’t serve. It’s truly just discriminatory rhetoric and the story never changes, just the group it attacks does. I have a right as an American to be given the opportunity to defend my country. After all, shouldn’t a nation’s military look like the people it defends?"

See the full press release from Huffman’s office copied below and you can tune into the State of the Union live at 6 p.m. on Tuesday on NBC or online via live stream on YouTube.

Rep. Huffman Announces State of the Union Guest

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today announced that he has invited his constituent Lynda Bengtsson-Davis, a transgender Marine Corps veteran affected by President Donald Trump’s attempted transgender military ban, to attend the 2018 State of the Union address as his guest.

“As President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address, my message to him, to my constituents, and to America as whole is going to be: love trumps hate,”said Rep. Huffman. “President Trump clearly needs to hear this message.  From his anti-Muslim travel bans, to his slurs about other nations, the first year of the Trump presidency has been an unrelenting attack on core values— equality, tolerance, diversity and unity—that have helped make our country great. When our President tries to take us backward by turning Americans against each other and stoking culture wars, he must be confronted,” said Rep. Huffman.

“One of the most egregious examples of President Trump’s discriminatory and counterproductive actions was his decision last year to ignore his own national security advisors and ban transgender individuals from serving in our military.  Lynda Bengtsson-Davis is one of many transgender patriots who the President has tried to block from serving their country with his arbitrary, trans-phobic ban. Lynda has dedicated over a decade of her life to serving in the United States Marine Corps, and simply wants to reenlist in the Air National Guard.  By having her as my honored guest at the State of the Union, I hope to show her the gratitude and respect she should have received from our Commander-in-Chief – and to send the message to President Trump that we will never back down in the face of his hateful, divisive actions.”

Of her experience, Lynda Bengtsson-Davis said:

“When the President came out with this transgender ban, it sort of blew me away. My personal feeling was that someone who never served a day in his life, whether in the military or public service, had the audacity to discredit my service and the service and sacrifice being made by a specific population of the American people was unbelievable.  This whole argument about transgender people in the military is just recycled garbage and it’s the same argument that was used for why African Americans shouldn’t serve, why Native Americans shouldn’t serve, why women shouldn’t serve, why gays and lesbians shouldn’t serve, and now why transgender people shouldn’t serve. It’s truly just discriminatory rhetoric and the story never changes, just the group it attacks does. I have a right as an American to be given the opportunity to defend my country. After all, shouldn’t a nation’s military look like the people it defends?’

"Thousands of transgender service members openly and proudly serve our nation today, proving every day that what matters is their ability to accomplish the mission — not their gender identity," said Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy. "Donald Trump's attempt to single out transgender service members and qualified recruits for discrimination is both unconscionable and unconstitutional. Any qualified American who is literally willing to risk their life for their fellow citizens should be able to serve. HRC is proud to be part of the fight to support our nation's heroes and stop the Trump-Pence transgender military ban."

”President Trump’s ban was an affront to all of the brave men and women who are transgender, and are ready, willing, and able to serve in our military,” said James Esseks, director of the LGBT & HIV Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “Thousands of men and women who are transgender are already serving and meeting the same standards of fitness and deployability that apply to everyone else. The ban was also blatantly unconstitutional—which is why court after court, in case after case, has struck down the administration’s efforts to implement this discriminatory policy. We applaud Congressman Huffman for bringing attention to this issue at the State of the Union address, and for standing with the ACLU, our clients, and transgender Americans across the country to demand the equal treatment and dignity under the law they deserve.”

Last July, President Trump announced this hateful transgender ban on military service through the series of tweets below. Fortunately, his attempt has failed in the courts thus far, allowing the policy that enables transgender individuals to serve to continue.

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President Trump’s claim of high medical costs is a completely egregious cover for his hateful policy view.  According to the RAND Corporation, trans-related health care would only account for  “a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures.”

Last year, Rep. Huffman (D-San Rafael) led a group of lawmakers in urging Secretary of Defense James Mattis to ensure transgender individuals seeking to serve their country are afforded the opportunity to do so.


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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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