Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter showed his support for a ban on transgender troops in the U.S. military during a town hall meeting Wednesday night in Brunswick.
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel reports that Carter, a Republican in his second term representing Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, talked over boos from the crowd as he told them, “I don’t want ’em serving in the military. I’m sorry.” The district covers the coastal area of the Sea Islands and much of the southeastern portion of the state.
Talking over boos, Rep. Buddy Carter says he agrees w Trump's trans military ban. "I don't want 'em serving in the military. I'm sorry." pic.twitter.com/Os6BYc1SLk
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) August 9, 2017
The comments came in the midst of a three-day, nine-town hall stretch for Carter, who was previously a member of the Georgia state House and Senate. They also came two days after the release of a Palm Center report showing that discharging transgender troops would cost the US nearly $1 billion, more than 100 times the cost of providing health care for trans troops (estimated at $8.4 million).
Colton Griffin, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia’s LGBTQ Caucus, issued a statement in response to Congressman Carter’s comments, saying, “Buddy Carter’s remarks are reprehensible. An estimated 4,000 transgender Americans serve in our armed forces with honor. Carter’s comments are particularly appalling as they came out of the mouth of someone who has never worn the uniform. If Buddy Carter and Donald Trump get their way, thousands of military personnel will be shoved back in the closet, placing our national security at risk. At this moment, these service members are deployed around the globe protecting Americans—including Buddy Carter. The DPG stands with those fighting for our right to live freely, and champion their right to serve freely.”
Anti-LGBT groups, David Perdue praise Trump’s ban
On July 26, President Donald Trump issued a series of tweets claiming the US military “will not accept or allow” transgender people in the armed forces due to a burden of “tremendous medical costs and disruption” caused by trans service members.
The tweets were praised by anti-LGBT groups, including the Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage and the Ku Klux Klan. A bipartisan group of senators nationwide, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-California), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), spoke out against Trump’s remarks.
Karen Handel, the newly elected Republican in Georgia’s 6th District, told the Marietta Daily Journal that “the military is not going to act on a 40-character tweet.”
“I think you have to see what the actual directive is going to be,” she said. “What I will say is this: I do not think that the military should be required to pay for the transition surgery. That is an elective.”
While U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) hasn’t appeared to take a stance, numerous other Republican senators denounced Trump’s comments. However, U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-Ga) stuck out as one of the few Republican senators voicing support for the move, telling Mic, “I don’t think this is the time to have a social agenda conversation. I think [Trump] is well within his rights [to impose the ban].”
Trump’s comments led a group of Atlanta LGBT organizations to organize a rally and march in support of the transgender community. It also spurred a city-wide fundraising effort for trans nonprofits.
Military commanders issued statements saying in essence that they were ignoring Trump’s comments until official guidance was issued to the Pentagon. The White House did so on August 4. Approved by Trump, the new policy was expected to be delivered into the hands of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who has been quiet on the issue with approximately 15,000 trans service members under his command.
After his review, Mattis is expected to order a deliberate implementation by the Pentagon, which could take a period of time.