President Donald Trump, exercising his constitutional authority, announced in July, 2017 that transgender personnel will not be allowed to serve in our military; thereby, reversing an Obama policy of accepting them. President Barack Obama had set a deadline of July 1, 2017 to accept transgender personnel in the military.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis postponed that date until Jan. 1, 2018. Subsequently, two appeals court judges rejected the Trump administration’s request to put on “hold” orders by two lower court judges’ requiring the military to accept transgender personnel.
With the Department of Justice (DOJ) raising the “white flag,” along with the White House chief of staff and counsel failing to protect the president’s constitutional authority, the military is now required to accept transgender personnel effective Jan. 1, 2018. Actually, on Dec. 8, 2017, the Department of Defense (DOD) issued guidelines to recruit and enlist transgender personnel by Jan. 1.
The rationale for why the Trump administration will not challenge these rulings, according to DOJ officials, was that the DOD will be releasing an independent study on transgender issues by Feb. 2. So what? What’s lacking is an appreciation of the fact that the results of the DOD study are irrelevant to the principal issue of protecting the president’s constitutional authority.
In September 2017, DOD created a panel of senior officials to do a study on how to implement a directive by President Trump to prohibit transgender personnel from serving in our military. I have never understood why a study was necessary to carry out a direct order from the president. It certainly has been a delaying tactic.
Further, with Mr. Mattis’ appointment of Tony Kurta to chair the panel of experts, the results of this study are most likely a foregone conclusion. In that sense, Mr. Trump needs to know that Mr. Kurta and his panel of experts who will make recommendations on transgender policies have a close relationship with the LGBT activists he worked with during the Obama administration.
Mr. Kurta has been at the forefront of repeated LGBT Pride events at the Pentagon. Just last June, he instigated on an LGBT Pride month at the Pentagon without presidential authorization. He also worked with the Rand Corporation to write the deeply flawed 2016 pro-transgender report, which was produced in consultation with the LGBT community.
With Mr. Kurta’s track record, it is more than surprising that Secretary of Defense Mattis has agreed to appoint Mr. Kurta to be the principal deputy to the incoming undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.
Under the Obama administration, one of the first attacks on “cultural” norms was to destroy the moral underpinnings of the military by the removal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mandate. This has led to the forced acceptance of open homosexuality. It has had a clear negative impact on unit integrity, cohesiveness and the will to win. In 2014, there were over 10,000 “reported” unwanted male-on-male advances. Accepting transgender personnel in the military only further complicates unit integrity and mission accomplishment.
The Obama administration’s diversity policies were nothing but a cover for the social engineering mandates that were forced on our military personnel. None of it improved readiness or capabilities. Regrettably, none have been rescinded other than the president’s announcement on transgender personnel. President Obama’s Executive Order 13583 declaring that “diversity” is a strategic imperative critical to readiness and mission accomplishment is nonsense and needs to be canceled.
Dr. Paul McHugh, former head psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, stated in a July 12, 2015 Wall Street Journal article that our policymakers are doing a disservice to the public (and certainly to the military) by treating transgender confusion as a “right” rather than as a “mental disorder” that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. He went on to state that this disorder should not be treated as a “civil rights” issue.
Clearly, the military should not be burdened with the problem. More recently, Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians has reinforced Dr. McHugh’s position. I would be more than surprised if these two exceptionally well qualified doctors were included in the DOD’s panel of experts to address transgender issues.
The DOJ’s position that the reason they are not taking action to protect the president’s constitutional authority is that they are waiting for the results of the DOD’s study on transgender issues makes absolutely no sense. It needs to be understood that judges do not have the constitutional authority to make policy for the military, nor to countermand the president’s constitutional authority. Failing to protect the president’s constitutional authority could very likely have more serious consequences in the future with issues involving our national security.
• James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.