The Pentagon on Friday said that it was
delaying by six months implementation of a policy that allows openly
transgender people to enlist in the U.S. armed forces.
The policy was set to take effect
Saturday, July 1.
The military service chiefs asked for
the delay and Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly agreed.
Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter
last year lifted the ban on openly transgender military service. The
policy change came after a year-long review.
In a memo released last week, Mattis
said that his concerns about transgender enlistments had to do with
“Since becoming Secretary of Defense,
I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each
policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision
affect the readiness and lethality of the armed forces?” Mattis
wrote. “Put another way, how will the decision affect the
ability of America’s military forces to defend the Nation?”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, called the delay “needless.”
“Once this important policy is
implemented, it will strengthen our military by allowing qualified
and talented transgender people to enlist or commission,” said HRC
National Press Secretary Stephen Peters, a Marine veteran discharged
under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. “Each day that passes without the
policy in place restricts the armed forces’ ability to recruit the
best and the brightest, regardless of gender identity. We are
disappointed in this needless delay because the thousands of highly
trained and qualified transgender service members openly and proudly
serving our nation today have proven that what matters is the ability
to accomplish the mission, not their gender identity.”