Congressman says military should allow transgender service members

Posted at 10:26 PM, Jul 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 22:26:25-04

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Florida), disagrees with President Trump's policy of banning transgender people from serving in the military.

The president announced the policy earlier this week, and Rooney has gotten a lot of feedback since breaking ranks with the president on the issue.

"A little bit of both actually, probably more on the support side."

Rooney, elected last fall to serve the 19th district, says no one should be excluded from an all volunteer army.

"Anyone that meets the standards that the military feels is appropriate to serve, should serve."

President Trump vowed to support the LGBTQ community during the campaign, and Rooney a Trump backer didn't want to speculate on why the president reversed course.

But gay and lesbian advocates in Southwest Florida had plenty to say about it.

"When one group is singled out and their rights are violated, it affects all free people," said Tom Jordan, with GSLEN, the Gay Straight Lesbian Education Network.

He says thousands of transgender service members have been in the military for several years.

He says the president's order is ironic since the military just commissioned an aircraft carrier that has gender neutral bathrooms.

"I don't know that this has been a military policy or just presidential tweet.  However, if it is policy it seems to be without a lot of forethought."

Congressman Rooney says although he supports transgender military members, he opposes using government money to help pay  for conversion surgery.