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Former Navy Secretary: Trans Military Ban 'Dumbest' Policy Ever

Ray Mabius

Ray Mabius made the remark on the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's announcement of the ban.

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Donald Trump's transgender military ban is "the dumbest government policy you could possibly pursue," says former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabius.

Mabius made the remark Thursday, the one-year anniversary of Trump's announcement of the ban, at a Veterans in Global Leadership event in Washington, D.C., The Hill reports.

The ban "strikes me as the dumbest government policy you could possibly pursue and it weakens us and hurts our military," said Mabius, who was Navy secretary from 2009 to 2017, during President Barack Obama's administration. The ban is currently blocked by courts while lawsuits against it proceed.

Transgender people had been barred from the military since the 1990s, although many served in the closet. Ash Carter, Defense secretary under Obama, announced a new policy in 2016 that allowed trans troops to serve openly, without fear of discharge due to their identity. The policy, which Trump is now trying to reverse, came after a year-long study by military leaders. They concluded that allowing open service by trans people "would be a positive thing," Mabius told the gathering.

"To have that reversed in a tweet with no evidence, no thought, nothing, it's breaking faith with the people who are willing to serve," he said.

As Navy secretary, Mabius, the former governor of Mississippi, had supported the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which barred lesbian, gay, and bisexual troops from serving openly and resulted in the discharge of many; it was lifted during Obama's presidency. He also pushed for the opening of all military jobs to women.

"I have this notion, that if you can do a job, the only qualification to get that job ought to be the ability to do the job," he said. "Color or race or ethnicity or gender or who you love or what your sexual identity is ought to be irrelevant. Who cares?"

He recalled once meeting a gay service member who feared discharge if his orientation was revealed. "Three combat deployments, risking his life every day with the Marines, and yet his biggest worry was he was going to found out as being gay and kicked out," Mabus said. "How bad is that? And how much weaker does that make our military?"

He also denounced Trump's tendency to govern by tweet. "It worries me that we have a president who makes decisions by whim and by tweet about how we're going to use our military," he said.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.