Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) was among those at a rally in Seattle outraged over the Department of Defense’s new policy that bars transgender individuals from enlisting in the military.
“It’s bigotry and discrimination to not let them serve in the military,” Rep. Smith said.
Smith, who is the chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, said the policy puts the public at risk in challenging the country’s national security.
“From a very practical standpoint, the military is not meeting its recruitment goals right now,” he said. “If we have able bodies, people who are able to serve, to discriminate against them is just stupid. It is a waste of human resources and undermines the safety of this country.”
In 2018, the U.S. Army missed its recruiting goal by 6,500 soldiers.
Smith said he plans to begin the process of reversing the policy as part of an upcoming House defense bill.
“In the National Defense Authorizing Act, which is my bill this year as the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, we’re going to reverse this policy,” Smith said on Saturday.
The Pentagon said the policy is not a ban and allows transgender individuals interested in joining the military to file for a waiver on a case-by-case basis.
Active transgender members are exempt from the policy.
Staff Sgt. Patricia King from Tacoma has been deployed three times and has served in the military for 19 years.
While she is exempt of the policy, King fears she could miss out on promotional opportunities.
“There’s going to be this sense of systematic discrimination, whereby will we be looked at the same way for schools, will we be looked at the same way for promotions, will we be counted as equal to our peers?” said King on Saturday.
The policy is also feeling push back in courts across the country.
A federal judge in Seattle is hearing a case Karnoski vs. Trump in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.