WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives on Thursday condemned the Trump administration’s move to bar openly transgender people from serving in the military.
The 238-185 vote does not require the administration to withdraw the policy or make any changes to law, but simply expresses that a majority of the Democratic-controlled House is opposed to it. Trump initially announced the policy in 2017, reversing an Obama administration policy and drawing a string of legal challenges.
The Supreme Court lifted federal district court injunctions against the policy in January. In a memo earlier this month, the Pentagon said the ban would go into effect April 12.
The policy will prevent people from serving in the military if they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or are unwilling to serve in their biological gender. People will be able to request waivers to the policy on a case-by-case basis and the policy includes an exemption for some people who are currently serving.
Representative Adam Smith, D-Wash., said on the House floor Thursday morning that the policy is “based on ignorance and bigotry” and rejected arguments that allowing openly transgender people to serve in the military has a negative impact on military readiness.
“If you cannot be who you are and serve in the military then that is a choice that nobody should have to make,” Smith said.
Noting the bill does not do anything to change the Trump administration’s policy, Republicans criticized Thursday’s vote as little more than a political show. Representative Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said he is concerned the vote will politicize other work for the House Armed Services Committee, including the traditionally bipartisan defense spending bill.
“If we were to really be discussing the substance of the issue rather than a messaging bill, then we could talk about the high standards for military service without special accommodation and there would be a substantive discussion,” Thornberry said on the House floor. “That’s not what we’re doing today, it’s a messaging bill and that’s too bad because there are serious issues that need to be discussed.”