When Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, he likely thought that he would find a large constituency for the blatantly discriminatory move. But, as it turns out, most people seem to hate the living hell out of this thing.
In the hours since Trump’s surprise announcement, Democrats and Republicans alike have spoken up against the decision.
Combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) called it “discriminatory and counterproductive,” explaining that “I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, or anything else.”
Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, a former Command Sergeant Major and ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs committee, also drew upon his military background to trash the announcement.
Vice President Joe Biden also condemned the decision, saying simply that “Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.”
New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took her criticism a step further. In a statement emailed shortly after Trump’s Twitter announcement, Gillibrand not only called the new rule an “insult to [trans service members’] brave and honorable service” but vowed to introduce legislation “to overturn this discriminatory decision.”
But it wasn’t simply Democrats who lined up to oppose the rule. Major Republican figures—including some surprising voices of dissent—have also spoken up against the president’s announcement.
Republican John McCain spoke against the move on Facebook:
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.”
Joining McCain was Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, who served decades in the National Guard, earning the eventual rank of lieutenant colonel. Ernst, a vocal social conservative who has spoken out against same sex marriage and supported state-based decisions on limiting transgender rights, also offered her qualified opposition to the rule.
“She believes what is most important is making sure servicemembers can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life,” an Ernst spokeswoman told Politico. “Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”
The spokesperson added that Ernst did not believe the armed forces should use taxpayer funds to cover gender reassignment costs.
Sen. Orrin Hatch also announced his opposition to the move.