Today, a full-page advertisement in USA Today features quotes from both Republican and Democratic U.S. senators speaking out against the ban on transgender Americans serving in the armed forces. The piece highlights statements from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Richard Shelby (R-AL). Quotes are also included from a number of military leaders: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning. former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, and Gen. Martin Dempsey.
.@HRC @LambdaLegal @OutserveSLDN @LGBTMilPartners & @GenderJusticeWA took out a full-page ad in @USAToday highlighting the opposition of military leaders, national security officials & bipartisan lawmakers to Trump-Pence's ban on brave transgender troops. https://t.co/bTTaj1esDJ pic.twitter.com/EH0uLI8IyF
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) February 26, 2018
Centered in bold is the following text:
Military leaders, national security officials, bipartisan lawmakers in Congress and a majority of Americans oppose the Trump-Pence ban on transgender troops, which would hurt military readiness. Tell Donald Trump and Mike Pence not to put their politics ahead of our troops. Call the White House: 202-456-1414.
"When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country," reads text under and image of Sen. John McCain, who was a prison of war while he served in the armed forces during Vietnam. Another veteran, Deborah Lee James, was quoted speaking out more explicitly against Donald Trump. "I am not aware of any evidence to support President Trump's stated rationales for reversing the policy permitting open service," her quote reads, "The Working Group did not find that permitting transgender soldiers to serve would impose any significant costs or have a negative impact on military effectiveness or readiness."
The advertisement was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN, American Military Partner Association, and Gender Justice League.
“Military leaders, national security officials, and bipartisan lawmakers agree with the majority of Americans who believe the Trump-Pence Administration's ban on transgender troops is not only wrong, but hurts military readiness,” said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement announcing the ad. “Donald Trump’s erratic tweets and half-baked orders disrespect the bravery of countless transgender people who have fought and sacrificed for our country. It's long past time the White House abandon this reckless, unconstitutional ban and give these brave individuals the dignity, respect and honor they deserve.”