Jeb Bush supports Pentagon move to allow transgender military service
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told Yahoo News today that he was “fine” with transgender people openly serving in the U.S. military so long as the Pentagon determines that doing so would not compromise morale within the armed forces.
The Obama administration announced this week that it would start the process of lifting military’s ban on transgender service. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered a 6-month review to develop guidelines for implementation and study the policy implications of the move. He called the ban “outdated.”
Bush, who had not commented on the new proposed policy until today, said “ …if you can accommodate people who are transgendered and deal with making sure the military’s comfortable with this and making sure that the overriding principle ought to be how do we create the highest morale for the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen … and if you can accommodate those two concerns, then fine.”
Allowing transgender people to openly serve would spell one of the military’s last gender or sexually-based service exclusions. The ban on gays serving in the military was lifted in 2011. Bush has, however gingerly, waded into a social policy debate that a few years ago would have been unthinkable. But with the Supreme Court’s decision last month upholding the constitutionality of gay marriage and with increasing acceptance of gay and transgender rights across the culture, politicians of all ideological stripes have found themselves grappling with the issue of sexual tolerance and in some cases changing their positions. Bush criticized the court’s ruling in the gay marriage case, but has not called for a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as some Republican 2016 candidates have.