Big news from the White House today, where Obama press secretary Jay Carney endorsed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's openness to a Pentagon review of the military's outdated and unnecessary ban on transgender servicemembers.
Metro Weekly's Justin Snow reports:
The White House signaled their support Friday for a Pentagon review of the military's longstanding ban on transgender servicemembers.
Asked by Metro Weekly if President Barack Obama supports such a review, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier this week he is open to, White House press secretary Jay Carney said they back the defense secretary.
"I would certainly point you to what Secretary Hagel said and we certainly support his efforts in this area," Carney said.
"I do think it continually should be reviewed," Hagel said of the medical regulatory ban on transgender military service during a Sunday interview with ABC News' Martha Raddatz. "I'm open to that, by the way."...
When asked if Obama supports eventually lifting the ban on transgender American serving in the military, Carney deflected to Hagel's remarks.
"I would simply, at this point, leave it to Secretary Hagel's comments," Carney said. "I haven't spoken to him directly about this issue, but I would note what Secretary Hagel said and that we support him."
It's difficult to overstate the astonishing speed of the administration's transformation on this issue. Allyson Robinson, a leading LGBT rights advocate and a U.S. Army veteran herself, put it this way in an interview published yesterday in New York Magazine:
"The situation prior to three weeks ago was a refusal even to acknowledge that trans people even existed. About three weeks ago, the story of U.S. Navy dominance warfare specialist Landon Wilson [who was up for a position with the highest-level security clearance until it was discovered he'd transitioned in 2011] was on the front page of the Washington Post.
"The Pentagon went from having no plans to review the policy to, in just a couple of weeks, the secretary of defense saying it should be reviewed. That represents a very quick change for an institution that is not known for quick turnarounds."
Unlike "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the now-repealed law that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly, the military's ban on open trans service is not a law, but rather, a rule -- so the administration wouldn't have to go through Congress to change it. Could the military's trans ban be the next barrier to fall for LGBT people in the American armed forces?