Public News Service
NEW YORK – New Yorkers took to the streets Wednesday to protest President Trump’s announcement that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
Civil liberties organizations were quick to condemn the policy shift outlined in three early-morning posts to the president’s Twitter account.
Equality New York, an LGBT rights group, quickly organized a protest rally outside the Times Square military recruiting station where Gabriel Blau, co-chair of the group, said they would deliver a clear message to the president.
“These are our loved ones, our neighbors, our friends, ourselves,” Blau says. “And those who choose to serve our country and put their lives at risk in the military deserve to be respected and deserve to be seen.”
The president claimed in his tweets that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption” that transgender service members would entail.
But Blau points out that transgender people already are serving without disruption in the military, and the medical costs are not a burden.
“RAND Corporation did a study on this and showed the costs of providing trans-specific health care in the military is negligible,” Blau notes. “So both of Trump’s reasons are proven to be false.”
While many conservatives have praised Trump’s announcement, Republican Sen. John McCain has condemned it, saying anyone who is fit to serve should be allowed to do so.
Trump’s decision reportedly caught the Pentagon by surprise. While a tweet may express an opinion, it is not an executive order, so how this policy reversal will be carried out is still in question. But Blau is certain it will meet with resistance.
“We all found out about this today,” adds Blau. “I can’t speak to any cases that may or may not be planned but I’m sure that our community will be challenging this in court.”
The American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project says it is examining all its options for fighting the ban.