POLITICS
04/28/2017 03:00 pm ET

Fight Heats Up Over Trump's Army Secretary Pick As Lawmakers Decry His Anti-LGBTQ Views

They say his "history of homophobia and transphobia" make him unfit to lead the Army.

WASHINGTON ― Democratic House members are calling attention to the anti-LGBTQ views of President Donald Trump’s nominee for Army secretary, increasing the profile of a confirmation battle that has largely gone under the radar. 

“LGBT soldiers are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to protect our rights and freedoms,” wrote a group of 13 Democrats in a letter to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the chair and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, respectively. “It would be deeply disrespectful to their service to appoint a Secretary of the Army whose history of homophobia and transphobia makes it clear that he is not willing to do the same for them.”

Trump’s pick to be the civilian head of the Army is Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R), a West Point graduate and physician. He was an Army medic for the special operations team that captured Saddam Hussein in 2003. 

But Green has also spoken out against equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals. He recently sponsored a bill that would block local governments and public universities from considering companies’ internal policies (such as whether they discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation) when doing business or giving out contracts.

In September, Green told a tea party gathering that he believes being transgender is a disease. (The medical community disagrees.) And he opposes allowing transgender people to use the restroom corresponding with their gender identity, because he believes it opens the door for men to sexually assault women. He has cited the Bible for his opposition to these policies, saying he needs to “crush evil” in order to “protect women in their bathrooms.”

Neither McCain nor Reed returned a request for comment on the letter, which was led by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), the chair of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force. 

Mr. Green's past statements and actions have made it clear that he cannot be trusted to ensure that LGBT soldiers are able to serve their country without discrimination or harassment. Democratic House members, in a letter opposing Mark Green as Army secretary

LGBTQ groups have spoken out against Green’s nomination. Transgender celebrity and Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who voted for Trump, has also said she’s disappointed in his pick of Green.

“He’s up for secretary of the Army, and this guy has come out with some of the most anti-LGBT statements ever, calling me, a trans person, as a disease,” Jenner said. “I hate to tell Mark Green, I don’t have a disease, OK?”

This week, Green broke his silence and responded to some of the criticism, going after the “liberal left” for making him seem like an LGBTQ “hater.”

“I believe that every American has a right to defend their country regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. It’s the radical left that won’t allow the latter,” he wrote.  

If confirmed, Green would oversee a force that’s been fully integrated since June, when the Pentagon ended its ban on transgender people serving openly. If confirmed, he would stand in significant contrast to the previous Army secretary, Eric Fanning, who was the first openly gay person to serve in the position. 

“Mr. Green’s past statements and actions have made it clear that he cannot be trusted to ensure that LGBT soldiers are able to serve their country without discrimination or harassment,” wrote the Democratic lawmakers in their letter.

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