Susan Collins introduces amendment to allow transgender people serve in military

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Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, walks towards the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. 
AP

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, introduced an amendment Monday designed to stymie Republican President Donald Trump’s call to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. armed forces.

The move fulfills a commitment Collins and Gillibrand made in late July, after Trump issued his controversial call for the Pentagon to remove transgender people from the military. Transgender service members have been openly serving since June 2016.

The amendment to the defense spending plan would:

— Require Defense Secretary James Mattis to provide Congress with a report on his review of military service by transgender people.

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— Express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve.

— Prohibit the Department of Defense from involuntarily separating or denying re-enlistment in the Armed Forces to currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the member’s gender identity.

The Collins-Gillibrand amendment does not appear to address the Trump administration ban on new enlistments by transgender Americans.

“Our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” Collins said in a statement. “If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to exclude them from military service.”

Collins and 44 other senators sent a letter to Mattis in July, urging him to not to discharge transgender people from military service until his had completed his review of their service.

Mattis said in August that during his review of the impact of having openly transgender people in the armed forces no one will be discharged simply for being transgender.

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