Chicago-area Democrats in Congress blasted President Donald Trump‘s surprise tweet Wednesday saying he would not accept or allow transgender troops in the military, with Democrats assailing the move as “stupid” and “bigoted.”
Most Chicago-area Republicans declined Tribune requests for comment. An exception was GOP Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, who took issue with Trump’s decree, saying in a statement: “In settling these sorts of matters, we are better served by a thoughtful review like the Department of Defense has undertaken.” He declined to say specifically whether he supports or opposes Trump’s bid to bar transgender troops.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis decided June 30 to give top military bosses an additional six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender people to enlist would affect the “readiness or lethality” of the force. That affected potential new recruits but not transgender personnel already in the ranks.
Democrats had more fighting words for Trump. Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson issued a statement saying his decision to “tweet out a major military personnel decision shows his complete and utter disdain for those who wear the uniform.”
Decisions affecting Americans who put their lives on the line “deserve more than 140 characters in his consistent tweet stream of hate and ignorance,” Kelly said.
Trump’s declaration Wednesday could be seen as a nod to his conservative base — and to change the subject from ongoing Russian probes — and it gave Democrats an opportunity to embrace a key constituency and to express their strident opposition to the president.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost her legs in the Iraq War in 2004, said in a statement when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, “I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else.”
Both Duckworth and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin noted that Trump’s…