Fox News viewers will be treated to an unexpected surprise this week: an ad condemning Donald Trump’s embattled ban on trans military service.
Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, will be airing an advertisement on cable news channelsincluding Fox, CNN, and MSNBCurging the president to allow transgender people to serve openly in the armed forces.
The 30-second spot, which will be broadcast for the first time Friday, features quotes from top officials decrying the president’s July tweets blocking trans people from enlistingwhich were signed into policy the following month. Trump claimed in a series of posts that transgender troops would “not be allowed to serve in any capacity,” citing fear of “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
The lawmakers and politicians cited in the ad disagree.
Today, @HRC @LambdaLegal @OutserveSLDN @LGBTMilPartners & @GenderJusticeWA unveiled a new television ad featuring military, national security, & bipartisan officials voicing opposition to the Trump-Pence #transgender #military ban. #ProtectTransTroops pic.twitter.com/XzoikBfVRf
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) March 1, 2018
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) refers to the proposal, which has been blocked by a series of federal court rulings, as “discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security.” Sen. Joni Ernst (D-Iowa) claims any recruits who “can meet the standards to serve should be afforded that opportunity,” while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) adds that “transgender individuals should be treated as the patriots they are.”
Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Obama, concludes “there’s no reason to single out these brave men and women.”
The commercial ends with a message to viewers.
“Tell Donald Trump and Mike Pence to put our troops ahead of your politics,” the Human Rights Campaign urges.
Although the White House has declined to comment on the ad, HRC spokeswoman Sarah McBride says there’s a reason advocates are “taking the fight to Trump” by airing the TV spot on his favorite network. There’s a “critical window of time” before the president introduces another policy on trans enlistment, as McBride tells the Associated Press.
HRC – along with @LambdaLegal, @OutServeSLDN, @GenderJusticeWA, and @LGBTMilPartners – will be airing an ad featuring bipartisan voices calling this policy exactly what it is: discriminatory and dangerous. So proud of my colleagues for making this happen. #ProtectTransTroops
— Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) March 1, 2018
Gen. James Mattis was scheduled to issue Trump his recommendations on the future of transgender military service last Wednesday, although some reports claim the president received it on Friday. He will reportedly issue a new memorandum later this month.
Although the Defense Secretary allegedly recommended trans people be allowed to serve, Trump frequently ignores the advice of advisors when making key policy decisions. In Fire and Fury, author Michael Wolff claims Trump only thought about the trans military ban for 10 minutes before tweeting it. He had been presented with four options in a briefing on the subject, of which the ban was one.
Trump’s unilateral action reportedly took his top personnel by surprise. Mattis was on vacation at the time the tweets were posted.
The HRC commercial, which cost in the five-figures to produce, will air just days after the Pentagon confirmed the first trans recruit has successfully enlisted, defying Trump’s attempted ban. The spot is similar to a full-page ad run in USA Today earlier this week, which was published in conjunction with advocacy groups like Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images