The resolution is non-binding, which makes it more symbolic than anything, but that’s something… right?
One can’t help but feel that we’ll be hearing about the trans military ban in some form or another for the rest of the Trump presidency — even if said presidency extends all the way until 2024 (perish the thought). Last month, we heard that the Pentagon had set an official date on which the ban would finally go into effect — April 12, less than two weeks from today. Then a week later, Federal District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly reminded the Defense Department that the injunction she instituted on the ban last October is still in place.
Now, the House Of Representatives has passed a non-binding resolution denouncing the ban. The resolution was introduced by Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy III, and passed after an hour of floor debate last Thursday.
“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, according to the Washington Blade.
But how much consolation can we take from this? After all, the resolution is indeed non-binding. Despite the fact that it passed by a vote of 238-185, the resolution has no legal power to compel the action of the Executive Branch, meaning that the institution of the ban is still in Trump administration hands.
What’s more, only five of the House’s 190 Republicans chose to vote in favor of the resolution, despite the fact that a Quinnipiac University Poll published by the Washington Blade in January found that 70 percent of the country supports transgender people having the opportunity to serve in the military.
New York Senator and current Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced a bill in the Senate that would stop the military from discharging qualified service members based on transgender status, while California Representative Jackie Speier has introduced a corresponding bill into the House. Speier hopes to amend the annual defense spending authorization with her bill, which, if she accomplished such a thing, would result in Trump having to approve an end to trans-related discharges in order to get his defense budget for the year. One imagines this leading to yet another government shutdown.
But for now, all we have is this non-binding resolution — and, of course, the trans pride flags several Congressmembers flew outside their offices last week to display support for International Transgender Day of Visibility. Such symbolic displays are nice, but how long must we get by on such things, without concrete civil rights legislation? It seems we’re all about to find out.
Photo via Congressman Andy Levin/Twitter