POLITICS
04/20/2017 12:57 pm ET

Trump Pick For Army Secretary Says He Opposes Transgender Equality Because He Must 'Crush Evil'

He has also said he believes being transgender is a disease.

Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R), President Donald Trump’s choice to be the next Army secretary, believes that part of his mission as a public official is to “crush evil” ― and that opposing transgender equality policies is key to that effort.

As head of the Army, Green would oversee a force that’s fully integrated, since the Pentagon ended its ban on transgender people serving openly in June. If confirmed, he would set a significantly different tone than the previous Army secretary, Eric Fanning, who was the first openly gay person to serve in the position.

In June, Green said he opposed allowing people to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, rather than the sex assigned at birth. He told an online radio show he believed the matter should be left up to the states rather than the federal government, and then cited the safety of women as a key reason he personally opposes transgender equality in public accommodations. 

“There are 300,000 rapes in the United States every year,” Green said. “Three hundred thousand women who are sexually assaulted by predators. We know this. It’s documented. It’s factual. To think that some young guy isn’t going to take advantage of the system where we’re going to allow guys to go into the bathroom ― the women’s bathroom ― to think that it’s not going to happen is just ridiculous.”

President Donald Trump picked Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R) to be his Army secretary.
Tennesee General Assembly
President Donald Trump picked Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R) to be his Army secretary.

The need to protect women from sexual predators is a common conservative argument against inclusive bathroom policies. But it’s also a red herring. It’s already illegal for men to sexually assault women, whether it takes place in a bathroom or some other place. Nothing would change in that regard. And leading organizations dedicated to fighting sexual assault say they support transgender equal access.

States and localities that have implemented transgender-inclusive restroom policies have also said they have not seen an increase in rape and assault because of these laws.

But for Green, there’s also a biblical reason to oppose these policies: He needs to “crush evil”:

And as far as the religious argument goes, and this applies to the issue of Syrian refugees as well. There’s a big fuss about whether or not that we should sue the federal government over having to take refugees from Syria into the State of Tennessee, I believe we should sue the federal government in that case because Romans 13 is pretty doggone clear, this is the passage where it tells people to submit to the authorities – meaning, basically if you’re in the government, you should do what the government tells you to do. You know, don’t speed, all that kind of stuff. Obey the laws is basically what the passage says. But what it goes on to say is that because the government exists for two purposes. 

The government exists to honor those people who live honorably, who do good things – to reward people who behave well and to crush evil. So that means as a state senator, my responsibility very clearly in Romans 13 is to create an environment where people who do right are rewarded and the people who do wrong are crushed. Evil is crushed.

So I’m going to protect women in their bathrooms, and I’m going to protect our state against potential infiltration from the Syrian ISIS people in the refugee program. And whoever wants to stand up and take me on that, I’m ready to fight.

“The Trump Administration must have been desperate to fill this post because Mark Green’s anti-LGBTQ remarks should disqualify anyone seeking to be in charge of the United States Army, which includes many out and proud soldiers,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy group. “Our nation is strongest when we are together ― and calling transgender people ‘evil’ does just the opposite.” 

Green did not return a request for additional comment on his remarks and views on transgender people.

In September, Green told a tea party gathering that he believes being transgender is a disease. (The medical community disagrees.)

Green is also the sponsor of SB 127, a bill that would bar government entities from taking “discriminatory action against a business entity on the basis of the internal policies of the business entity” in Tennessee. 

The state’s nondiscrimination protections do not currently cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although some municipalities do have stronger rules protecting LGBTQ government employees.

Green’s bill, however, would bar 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 ― because the legislation considers that to be discriminatory.

The bill passed the Tennessee state Senate, but this week, the House deferred the measure until next year. 

Green is a West Point graduate and physician. He was an Army medic for the special operations team that captured Saddam Hussein in 2003. He later wrote a book about his experience interviewing the former Iraqi dictator. 

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