President Donald Trump claimed that the military is no place for “bigotry and prejudice” in a Monday speech, but critics claim there’s a problem with that statement: His anti-LGBTQ policies promote the intolerance he condemns.
Trump delivered a televised address to the public in which he said that the military would be reinvesting in the Afghanistan conflict, sending an additional 4,000 troops to the war-torn country. But during that speech, the president appeared to offer yet another statement on the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va. Three people were killed over the weekend as a result of a clash between Confederate apologists and anti-racist protesters.
In response, the president alleged violence on “both sides.” Many noted that statement failed to take a stand against white supremacy.
Trump did not change that tack Monday.
“When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate,” Trump said, now the third time that he has publicly commented on Charlottesville in a press conference. “The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.”
That statement was lambasted by LGBTQ advocates, given that Trump called for a ban on trans military service in a series of July 26 tweets.
“[T]he United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S.,” he wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming military victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said that as the Oval Office works to make Trump’s tweet into policy, the president’s Monday speech is “laughable.”
“His administration has repeatedly tried to move policies that discriminate and to promote prejudice against LGBTQ Americans and other marginalized communities,” Ellis said in an email statement provided to INTO. “From trying to ban transgender troops who just want to serve this country to filling his administration with known anti-LGBTQ activists, Trump’s words are disingenuous and embody fake news.”
Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, also wasn’t impressed.
“The president’s remarks on racism and bigotry within the military were misplaced and not believableespecially only a month after he unilaterally and without expertise or consultation attack transgender troops,” Kiesling wrote in a press release. “The U.S. military has always been a leader in advancing acceptance, integration and equality, yet it is the President called in July for the persecution and purging of transgender troops.”
Although Trump has claimed that removing trans military members would save the armed forces money, that claim has been routinely debunked.
A 2016 study from the RAND corporation found that providing health coverage for transgender service memberswould cost between $2.4 million to $8.4 million. This is far from the “billions” that Trump has cited. Meanwhile, discharging trans troops has a price tag of $960 million. UCLA’s The Williams Institute has estimated that 15,500 active-duty personnel are transgender.
The White House has yet to comment on LGBTQ criticism of the president’s Monday remarks.