Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus joined the long list of current and former military officials blasting Trump’s trans military ban in comments made on Thursday.
In a speech delivered at the Veterans in Global Leadership event in Washington, D.C, Mabus called a July 2017 tweetstorm calling for the removal of transgender troops from active duty the “dumbest government policy you could possibly pursue.”
“[I]t weakens us and hurts our military,” he told colleagues, in comments first reported by The Hill.
Almost exactly one year ago, President Trump tweeted that transgender people would not be permitted to serve in the U.S. armed forces “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous costs and disruption” that would result from trans inclusion. Trump signed a directive in August 2017 turning the proposal into official policy.
Although the Pentagon doubled down on the policy by releasing a 44-page in March defending it, the chiefs of all four U.S. military branches claimed there have been zero incidents arising from transgender service.
In total, more than three dozen ex-military officials have come out to oppose the ban.
Mabus, who served under Obama between 2009 and 2017, claimed the consensus among members of the military is that allowing trans people to enlist “would be a positive thing.” Before Trump’s tweets effectively rolled back the decision, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in 2016 that trans people would permitted to serve openly for the first time.
“To have that reversed in a tweet with no evidence, no thought, nothing, it’s breaking faith with the people who are willing to serve,” Mabus claimed, adding: “It worries me that we have a president who makes decisions by whim and by tweet about how we’re going to use our military.”
The former Obama official called a story of a gay medic in the Navy who feared being discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“He said, ‘I’ve been scared to death, the whole 11 years that I was going to be found out for being gay and kicked out,'” Mabus recalled. “Three combat deployments, risking his life everyday with the Marines and yet his biggest worry was he was going to found out as being gay and kicked out.”
“How bad is that?” he asked. “And how much weaker does that make our military?”
The one-time governor of Mississippi added that questions of identity — whether it’s a soldier’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity — should be “irrelevant” when determining whether they have the fitness to serve in combat areas.
“I have this notion, that if you can do a job, the only qualification to get that job ought to be the ability to do the job,” Mabus claimed.
A series of federal court decisions have agreed with his assessment. In July, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the Trump administration’s request for a preliminary injunction against a December 2017 ruling from Judge Marsha Pechman preventing the ban from going into effect.
The Ninth District claimed Pechman’s ruling “preserves the status quo, allowing transgender service members to serve in the military in their preferred gender and receive transition-related care.”
“Appellants ask this court to stay the preliminary injunction, pending the outcome of this appeal, in order to implement a new policy,” the court added in its written opinion. “Accordingly, a stay of the preliminary injunction would upend, rather than preserve, the status quo.”
This isn’t the first time Mabus has criticized the Trump administration’s actions. Last year he claimed that a policy which serves to force out transgender troops serving in active duty is an insult to “patriots.”
“This notion that all of this work’s been done and these people felt safe as transgender, felt safe coming out, joining the military, and then suddenly the rug gets jerked out from under — it’s not the way to treat patriots,” he told the University of Chicago podcast The Axe Files. “It’s not the way to build a great military force either.”
Image via Getty