LGBT troop advocates express concern over Trump's Army pick

LGBT troop advocates express concern over Trump's Army pick
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A leading group that advocates for LGBT troops and their families is expressing concern about President Trump’s pick to be Army secretary.

Trump is expected to nominate Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R) as the Army’s top civilian leader later this week. If confirmed, Green would succeed Eric Fanning, the first openly gay service secretary.

“We are deeply concerned over reports that Mark Green will be nominated as Secretary of the Army," Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, said in a statement Tuesday. "Green has made a shameful political career out of targeting LGBT people for discrimination.

“All soldiers and their families, including those who are LGBT, should have confidence that the secretary of the Army has their back and is working for their best interest. Unfortunately, based on his vicious, anti-LGBT record, Mark Green cannot be trusted to ensure all those who serve have the support they need and deserve."

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Green has a noteworthy military background, having served as a special operations flight surgeon who was the emergency physician during the operation that captured Saddam Hussein in 2003. He was the first person to interrogate Hussein following the capture.

But advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops are expressing worry about Green’s record as a Tennessee state senator.

Green is the lead sponsor of a bill that would prohibit action against a business for its internal personnel and benefits policies so long as those policies are already compliant with state law.

Tennessee law does not specifically bar discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity, and LGBT people say Green’s bill is meant to allow companies to discriminate against them.

Green has defended the bill as protecting businesses from having to deal with different standards in different municipalities.

“What we’re now saying is all personnel and employee benefit issues, we at the state are going to set what those are, and local communities cannot go beyond state law,” he said in February, according to The Tennessean.

LGBT troops voiced concern after the election that the Trump administration would roll back Obama-era changes allowing them to serve openly. Particularly, they worried about the fate of the Obama administration’s decision last June to allow transgender troops, which can be rolled back unilaterally since it’s not a law.

But advocates breathed a sigh of relief after Defense Secretary James Mattis’s confirmation hearing, where he said he doesn’t plan to change the policies.

Still, Mattis left open the possibility of making changes if a service secretary brings him evidence the policies are having negative effects.

“I never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,” Mattis said in January. “I believe that right now, the policies that are in effect — unless the service chief brings something to me where there has been a problem that has been proven — then I’m not going in with the idea that I am going to review these and right away, start rolling something back.”