June 25, 2019

Updated “Harry Truman” Amendment Would Allow Military Service by All Who Qualify

New Law Would Ensure Military Applies Its Own Equal Opportunity Policy

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act today codifying the military’s existing non-discrimination policy. The amendment is modeled after President Harry S. Truman’s 1948 order racially integrating the military. That order stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Rep. Speier’s amendment builds on this historic step by writing President Truman’s language into law and adding protection against discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It would codify the military’s existing equal opportunity 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.” One effect will be to allow transgender troops who meet the same standards as everyone else to serve in the military, reversing the ban that President Trump reinstated in April.

According to Palm Center director Aaron Belkin “The Speier amendment recognizes the success of the Truman policy on equal opportunity in the armed forces. History, research, and the U.S. military have told us for years that equal treatment in the military enhances readiness and bolsters national security by helping secure the best talent, and ensuring good order and discipline by applying a single standard to all personnel.”

Multiple polls have found that approximately 70% of the public supports transgender service, and the military’s top officers have stated that prior to the reinstatement of President Trump’s ban, inclusive policy for transgender personnel did not harm readiness.