Walz decries Trump’s transgender troop ban as ‘driven by hate’

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

By Cody Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio News

Several members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation were quick to sound off on President Trump’s surprise announcement Wednesday to bar transgender people from serving in the military.

Leading the charge was DFL Rep. Tim Walz, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress.

Tim Walz

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“After 24 years of service as an enlisted soldier, I know what it takes to build cohesive teams in our military,” Walz said in a statement. “This President, who hasn’t served a day of his life in uniform, does not.”

Trump’s announcement, which he made on Twitter Wednesday morning, said transgender people won’t be allowed in the military “in any capacity.” The president cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption,” and said he consulted with generals to make his decision.

Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Al Franken, both Democrats, also released public statements decrying the ban as discriminatory

“These are real people — our families, loved ones, friends, and now members of the U.S. military — who are being hurt by his cruel decisions,” Franken said in a statement.

Republicans and the Pentagon appeared to be caught off-guard by Trump’s announcement. One Pentagon spokesman told the Associated Press to “call the White House” when asked about the ban.

Rep. Jason Lewis, a freshman Minnesota Republican, said on CNN he wants more information from military leaders about Trump’s decision. Lewis told the TV station he wants to hear from the officials who consulted with the president about their rationale.

“Frankly I’d leave that the generals and I’d want to talk with some of the military brass before I came down with a position on that,” Lewis said. “But I think anybody ought to be able to serve in the military.”

— MPR News’ Brian Bakst contributed to this report.