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John McCain, Other GOPers Oppose Trans Military Ban

John McCain

Those at least voicing reservations about the move include some expected and some surprising names.

Donald Trump's announced reinstatement of the ban on transgender people in the military is getting some opposition from fellow Republicans -- expected ones like Ileana Ros-Lentinen, surprising ones like Joni Ernst, and esteemed ones like John McCain.

McCain, the senior U.S. senator from Arizona, is the most prominent name among GOPers who have criticized Trump's action. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he returned to work this week after undergoing surgery for a cancerous brain tumor. In a statement posted on his Senate website, he expressed, at the very least, reservations about Trump's move.

"The President's tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.

"The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military -- regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so -- and should be treated as the patriots they are.

"The Department of Defense is currently conducting a study on the medical obligations it would incur, the impact on military readiness, and related questions associated with the accession of transgender individuals who are not currently serving in uniform and wish to join the military. I do not believe that any new policy decision is appropriate until that study is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the Secretary of Defense, our military leadership, and the Congress.

"The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to follow closely and conduct oversight on the issue of transgender individuals serving in the military."

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah also voiced reservations, releasing this statement via Twitter:

Richard Shelby, a U.S. senator from Alabama, offered a critique on CNN's Newsroom. "You ought to treat everybody fairly and give everybody a chance to serve," he said, adding, "The current policy is a big tent for people who want to serve. You have to remember our military force is a volunteer force."

And Joni Ernst, a freshman senator from Iowa and military veteran, made a statement in support of transgender troops, with a caveat that taxpayers shouldn't fund gender-affirmation procedures, something that has been a bone of contention. "She believes what is most important is making sure service members can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life," Ernst spokeswoman Brook Hougesen told The Des Moines Register via email. "While she believes taxpayers shouldn't cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity."


And over in the House, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (above) of Florida, who has a transgender son, tweeted the following:

She also praised Hatch's statement.

A reinstatement of the ban would apparently not need the approval of Congress, as the ban and its repeal came through administrative actions of the Defense Department, not federal law like the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on lesbian, gay, and bisexual troops, repealed during President Obama's administration.

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