The U.S. House voted Tuesday morning to rebuke President Trump’s transgender military ban by approving a non-binding resolution with bipartisan support.
The resolution, which was introduced by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), was approved by a vote of 238-185 after an hour of debate on the House floor in which lawmakers denounced the Trump administration’s policy as discriminatory.
On the House floor, Kennedy said his resolution reinforces the American idea that “equal has always been our nation’s North Star” despite a history that has included slavery and racial segregation.
“Today, this House has a chance to not repeat the mistakes of our past, to move one step closer to that sacred promise, by telling brave trans men and women in uniform that they cannot be banned from military service because of who they are,” Kennedy said.
Five Republicans voted for the resolution against the transgender military ban: Reps. Will Hurd (Texas), John Katko (N.Y.), Trey Hollingsworth (Indiana), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa) and Tom Reed (N.Y.). Another Republican — Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) — voted present.
The House approves the resolution shortly after the Defense Department unveiled its plan to begin the transgender military ban on April 12. Although federal courts had initially blocked the administration from enacting the policy, the orders were lifted in the accordance with guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court effectively green-lighting the ban as litigation proceeds against it.
Also speaking out in favor of the resolution was House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who last week announced he would bring the measure to a House floor vote.
“The Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in our military is discriminatory, that it denigrates the service of patriotic Americans,” Hoyer said. “That is the facet of their character, they are patriotic and they want to serve, and the service judges them able to do so. The resolution, millions of Americans understand, undermines our national defense at a time of serious global threats, and the this resolution rightfully calls on the Trump administration not to implement such a ban on April 12.”
The number of lawmakers — all Democrats — who spoke out on the House floor in favor of the resolution by far exceeded the two lawmakers — both Republicans — who spoke out against against it.
Among them was Rep. Vicky Hartlzer (R-Mo.), who has a notoriously anti-LGBT record and two years ago introduced an amendment to the House floor seeking to ban the U.S. military from paying for transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery. Even though Republicans at the time controlled the House, lawmakers voted down the amendment.
On the House floor, Hartzler said the transgender ban is justified because the military has broad exclusions on service based on a variety of medical conditions. (That ignores the conclusions from the American Medical Association that being transgender isn’t an impediment to military service.)
“Our all voluntary military is the greatest military force in the world and we must allow it…to make the best medical and military judgment about what medical conditions should qualify or disqualify an individual from serving,” Hartlzer said. “We should not carve out exceptions for an entire population. Military service is a privilege, not a right.”