As the House of Representatives debated a proposal that would ban medical treatments for transgender individuals serving in the military, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California had a brief message:
“Choose what gender you are before you join.”
A smattering of Democrats gathered to oppose the amendment offered by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., quietly gasped.
After Hunter finished speaking, Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay congressman from New York, took his turn at the podium.
“No one in the Pentagon has called for this,” Maloney said. “The Hartzler amendment would single out and rob a small group of military service members and their families of their health care merely because these folks, or members of their family, experience gender a little differently.”
Just under an hour later, the House of Representatives narrowly voted down Hartzler’s proposal 214-209, to audible cheers from the House floor.
Two dozen House Republicans voted with 190 Democrats to sink the amendment that would prohibit military funds for soldiers seeking medical treatment related to gender transition.
“It’s a hurtful amendment, it’s not needed,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, a noted advocate for LGBT rights who has a transgender son. “I view it as a personal issue, because as a mom I’m impacted, but it’s an issue of fairness for everyone. You don’t have to know someone that’s transgender or have someone in your immediate family to feel this impact. It’s just needlessly hurtful and serves no useful purpose.”
Ros-Lehtinen was among the 24 Republicans, including Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who voted against the amendment. Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart voted in favor.
Hartzler argued that her amendment would save the military money, and said the Department of Defense could buy 13 more F-35 fighter jets with the money that would be used for gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender service members.
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