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House Democrats urge Mattis to reject 'unconstitutional' transgender ban

Democratic lawmakers are urging Defense Secretary James Mattis not to comply with President Donald Trump's transgender ban. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

More than 50 House Democrats signed a letter delivered Friday to the office of Secretary of Defense James Mattis telling the Pentagon not to comply with President Donald Trump's recently announced ban on transgenders serving in the U.S. military.

"As members of Congress with an abiding interest in our nation’s military and its policies toward the LGBTQ community, we write to not only express our strong opposition to President Trump’s recent tweets seeking to ban transgender individuals from the military, but to remind you not to comply with any unconstitutional directive which may ultimately be issued,” the lawmakers wrote to Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, according to The Hill.

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, organized the move, obtaining signatures of 51 other lawmakers from their own committees along with members of the congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

"As the respected leaders of our brave armed service members, you have no obligation to implement a hastily considered tweet designed to serve as a ‘wedge’ political issue; but rather you should honor your own independent duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," the lawmakers said in the letter.

"We believe any serious or credible review of the law and the facts in the present case make it clear that the president’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces will weaken, not strengthen our military, and is blatantly unconstitutional," they said.

Trump announced the policy change on Twitter last week, explaining that the military should focus on more pressing matters than the transgender debate.

"[P]lease be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," he tweeted. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."

After Trump's announcement, Dunford stated that the Pentagon could not comply until they had received an official directive to do so. According to The Hill, the Pentagon reported this week that the White House is currently working with them to draft the orders.

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