Senator Susan Collins of ME is one of a pair of senators introducing an amendment to prevent the US Department of Defense from removing service members from the military due to their gender identity. Forty-five senators including Gillibrand and Collins (the lone Republican) sent a letter to Mattis in July asking him not to kick out transgender troops.
The senators will try to get a vote on their proposal during consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, the massive defense policy bill that's on the Senate floor this week.
President Donald Trump announced in July that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the US military.
The amendment also expresses a sense of the Senate that individuals should be able to serve regardless of their gender identity.
Senator Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, said: "Any individual who wants to join our military and meets the standards should be allowed to serve, period". It also requires Secretary of Defense James Mattis to present Congress with a report about transgender individuals in the military.
The two senators have been battling against anti-LGBTQ legislation since 2010 when they both lead fights against the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
However, the amendment stops short of directing the Pentagon to accept transgender people into the armed forces, putting off the decision on whether that will happen until the completion of the study. "McCain, Collins, Murkowski, Hatch, Portman, Ernst, Tillis, Heller, Johnson, Toomey, Gardner, Shelby and Sullivan, and 56 retired generals and admirals have said that reinstating the transgender ban would degrade readiness". This review includes the future of now serving openly transgender troops who may have disclosed their gender dysphoria to the Defense Department after former President Barack Obama past year rescinded the ban on openly transgender people serving.
The Gillibrand-Collins amendment needs 60 votes to pass, and they have said they don't know if they have those votes.
Lawmakers were considering last week language for an amendment against Trump's transgender military ban.
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