July 10, 2019

Palm Center Statement on Congressional Vote: Military Service Should be Based on Ability

“Harry Truman” Amendment Would Ensure Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In anticipation of a vote on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act introduced by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA), Palm Center director Aaron Belkin released the below statement. The measure, known as the “Truman Amendment” after President Harry Truman’s 1948 executive order racially integrating the military, would codify the military’s existing non-discrimination standards in DoD Directive 1020.02E, “Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity in the DoD,” which states that equal opportunity is “critical to mission accomplishment, unit cohesiveness, and military readiness” and requires that all service members be “afforded equal opportunity in an environment free from harassment, including sexual harassment, and unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity), or sexual orientation.”

Belkin stated the following:

“The Speier Amendment is the best and perhaps only way to ensure that military policy reflects what both military experts and the American public believe: that standards for military service should apply to everyone equally, based on what it takes to do the job. History shows that, from President Harry Truman’s racial desegregation of the military through ending ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ our armed forces are stronger when they are inclusive and reflect the society they serve. The American people overwhelmingly support non-discrimination in the military and they respond with open arms when Americans of any identity perform at their peak for our national honor, whether in military or civilian life.” 

The measure is accompanied by another, introduced by Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD), requiring the Pentagon to report on individuals affected by the ban, thus helping track and quantify the costs of exclusionary policy.

American public opinion consistently supports equal opportunity, and multiple polls have found that around two thirds of the public supports inclusive transgender service. The military’s top officers have stated that, prior to the reinstatement of President Trump’s ban, inclusive policy did not harm readiness.