Awkward tension as Pentagon hosts Pride while pushing to ban trans members

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Pride is supposed to be a time for celebration, but there was palpable tension Monday at the annual Defense Department Pride event as LGBTQ civilians and members of the armed forces recognized the occasion.

The event — hosted by DOD Pride, an affinity group for LGBTQ Pentagon employees — has been held each year within the Defense Department since 2011 when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was certified. But the elephant in the room was President Trump’s transgender military ban. It was the first such celebration since Trump announced in July 2017 on Twitter he’d ban transgender service members “in any capacity.”

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No proclamation (again) from Trump for Pride month

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The first day of June has arrived and President Trump again declined to issue a proclamation recognizing Pride month, breaking a tradition when Democrats occupied the White House.

Meanwhile, Trump has issued proclamations in recent days recognizing National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Ocean Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month.

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U.S. agencies to celebrate Pride month, but without Cabinet secretaries

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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With Pride month approaching, many U.S. agencies in the second year of the Trump administration are continuing plans to hold celebrations for their LGBT workers, although Cabinet leaders will be absent and some annual events are in question.

The absence of Cabinet leaders at these events stands in contrast to the Obama years when they were featured speakers at the celebrations, wished LGBT federal workers a happy Pride and reflected on the significance of the annual event.

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Bipartisan amendment introduced against Trump’s trans military ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers seeking to amend a defense bill against Trump’s trans military ban. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed an amendment to major defense policy legislation that would abrogate President Trump’s ban on transgender military service.

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Army chief of staff undermines DOD report against transgender service

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley. Photo public domain.

The top uniformed official in the U.S. Army on Thursday undermined recommendations from Defense Secretary James Mattis against transgender military service — which led to President Trump’s ban on transgender people in the armed forces — by asserting their presence has had no negative impact on unit cohesion

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Speaker Ryan becomes latest Republican to announce retirement

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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With Republicans fretting about losing control of Congress in the mid-term elections, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has announced he won’t seek re-election, leaving an uneven record on LGBTQ rights and the door open for another Republican to take his place as leader of his caucus.

The 10-term member of Congress, who has served as speaker since 2015, announced during a news conference Wednesday he wouldn’t seek re-election to represent Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district in order to spend more time with his family, confirming news reports about his intended plan earlier in the day.

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AMA: Trans military ban ‘mischaracterized and rejected’ medical research

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The nation’s association for physicians had stern words Wednesday for Defense Secretary James Mattis over his recommendation to President Trump against transgender military service, saying his findings “mischaracterized and rejected” medical research.

In a letter dated April 3 and made public by Politico, James Madara, executive vice president of the American Medical Association, said Mattis distorted medical research in his determination transgender people are ineligible to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

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Joint chiefs not briefed before Trump went public with trans military ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. Photo public domain.

The joint military service chiefs were not briefed on the recommendations by Defense Secretary James Mattis against the transgender military ban or the Trump memo seeking to implement them before the White House went public with them last Friday, according to two sources familiar with the process.

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DOD appears to contradict White House on process for trans military ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A Defense Department spokesperson appeared Thursday to contradict the White House on the process for drafting the transgender military policy, asserting it was “a coordinated effort” with the White House and Justice Department as opposed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and his working group alone within the Pentagon.

Dana White, a Pentagon spokesperson, made the comments Thursday during a Pentagon news briefing in response to a question on timing for the release of the policy late Friday night and whether Mattis was “proud” of his recommendation against transgender military service.

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Who’s to blame for trans military ban: Mattis or Pence?

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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When President Trump reaffirmed his ban on transgender military service last Friday, the memo was backed up by a report from Defense Secretary James Mattis in which he asserted that a nine-month review of the issue revealed “substantial risks” in allowing transgender people in the U.S. military. But was it really his doing, or that of Vice President Mike Pence, who has a virulent anti-LGBT record?

Upon the release of the memo, many were surprised Mattis — who’s seen as one of the more mature voices in the Trump administration — was found to have signed his name to a document against transgender military service. After all, media reports from the time the memo was delivered in February indicated Mattis would advise Trump to allow transgender people to keep serving.

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Trump issues (moot) memo affirming ban on transgender military service

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Consistent with expectations for timing for the new policy, ban on transgender military service issued a memo late Friday on transgender military service that — while moot thanks to court orders against banning transgender troops — nonetheless reaffirms policy against their service.

In the memo dated March 23, Trump defers on the transgender military issue to Defense Secretary James Mattis and based on his recommendation asserts transgender people shouldn’t be allowed to serve “except under certain limited circumstances.”

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Defying court, DOJ won’t name experts Trump ‘consulted’ on trans ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Despite a court order requiring the U.S. government to disclose the names of military experts President Trump consulted before announcing his transgender military ban, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday it would keep that information to itself.

In a five-page filing before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Washington State, the U.S. Justice Department asserts executive privilege in keeping that information confidential — even though Pechman had determined that information isn’t subject to that protection — and insists information already given to the court is sufficient.

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