(Washington, DC) Defense Secretary James Mattis announced just hours before a July 1 deadline that he will defer implementation of the so-called transgender policy until January 1, 2018. The Obama-era policy would have allowed incoming service members identifying as “transgender” to enlist if they have been “stable” in their gender identity for 18 months. Such a policy is wide-reaching, applying to use of barracks, bathrooms, shower rooms, and coerced “training” of military and civilian personnel. The Obama policy directly undermines unit readiness as well as religious and conscience objections.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, former U.S. Army Delta Force commander and executive vice president of the Family Research Council, said “the Pentagon is right to hit the brakes on a policy that will fail to make our military more capable in performing its mission to fight and win wars. It’s good that the nation’s military leadership realizes what the American people realize, this policy makes no sense. The military has been reduced to stripping parts from museums, which is why it makes no sense to spend more than a billion taxpayer dollars on new body parts for anyone who joins the military and identifies as transgender.”

A Rasmussen survey released last week found that “just 23 percent of likely U.S. voters think the U.S. military’s decision to allow openly transgender people to serve is good for the military.” Thirty-one percent thought it was bad for the military and 38 percent said it would have no impact.

Liberty Counsel issued a letter last week to Fort Benning Army Base commanding officers requesting them to comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) Instruction and to provide religious accommodation and exemption from compliance with “transgender directives” which violate rights of conscience or religious beliefs, when such exemption has no effect on the accomplishment of the Army’s actual mission. Liberty Counsel was contacted by Army personnel and civilian employees within the Fort Benning, Georgia chain-of-command who seek religious accommodation exemptions from the mandate of the DOD “Directive-type Memorandum” 16-005, known as “Military Service of Transgender Service members,” requiring that personnel complete “transgender training“ and “guidance.” Liberty Counsel called upon Mattis to end the policy.

“We are pleased that Defense Secretary Mattis stopped the Obama transgender policy for six months and we urge him to put an end to this Obama-inspired plan,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The duty of military officers is to appropriately lead and prepare their personnel to serve and protect. This ‘transgender’ policy undermines unit cohesion, preparedness and morale. We should focus on making the military prepared to defend and we must stop using it as a place for social experimentation and coercion,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

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