Speaking to a crowd of 300 in Davenport, Iowa, presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) pledged to repeal Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military.
The topic came up as a trans woman asked the senator what he would do to protect LGBTQ rights as president.
“When I am president, right away I will end this ridiculous, insulting, un-American ban on transgender Americans serving in the military,” replied the 49-year-old senator.
According to the Associated Press, the response was met with cheers from the crowd.
Open service in the military by trans people began June 30, 2016, under the Obama administration.
But Donald Trump surprised the world when he tweeted on July 26, 2017, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please advised that the United States government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
Trump went on to denounce “the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender military would entail.”
But, an analysis by RAND Corporation found that the Pentagon spends only $2.4 to $8.4 million on trans-related healthcare annually, out of an estimated Department of Defense (DoD) defense budget of $49.3 billion (in 2014). That represents an infinitesimal 0.017% of the Department’s total budget.
A day later several media outlets reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not know the announcement was coming.
On August 1, 2017, 56 retired generals and admirals released a letter opposing the proposed ban on transgender military service members.
After multiple court challenges, the Pentagon released its plan last week to implement the new ban beginning April 12.
Other Democratic presidential candidates have called out the Trump/Pence administration’s dismal record on LGBTQ issues, but Booker is the first declared candidate to promise to repeal the trans ban.
Booker also pledged to revisit the Trump tax cuts, and expressed support for legalizing marijuana nationwide including expounging criminal records due to marijuana crimes.