President Trump said Thursday his surprise ban on transgender troops was “a great favor” for the U.S. military.
“It’s been a very difficult situation and I think I’m doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it,” Mr. Trump said at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “It’s been a very complicated issue for the military, it’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”
The president announced the new policy last month in a series of tweets. He said he took the action because “our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The move sparked criticism from lawmakers in both parties, some retired military officers and the transgender community. There are more than 2,000 transgender troops currently serving.
Mr. Trump said he has “great respect for the [transgender] community.”
“I think I’ve had great support, or I’ve had great support from that community,” the president said. “I got a lot of votes.”
Two LGBTQ rights groups said they will sue Mr. Trump over the ban, claiming his move violates their constitutional rights of equal protection and due process.
The American Military Partner Association, the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military spouses and their families, blasted Mr. Trump’s comments.
“President Trump’s shameful comments are an absolute insult to our nation’s armed forces and a slap in the face to the thousands of transgender service members who are willing to risk their lives every day for this country,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Their selfless service and sacrifice for this nation is no ‘complicated issue.’ Military leadership and the far majority of Americans support all of our nation’s heroes, and President Trump should start doing the same.”
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