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POLITICS Eventful week involves DoJ, ACA and transgender ban
2017-08-02

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Between developments involving the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act ( ACA, or "Obamacare" ); the U.S. Department of Justice's ( DoJ's ) ruling regarding workplace discrimination; and President Trump's tweet calling for the ban of openly transgender individuals serving in the military, last week was one of the most eventful ( if not chaotic ) so far during the chief executive's term.

And this does not even take into account the White House staff shakeup that resulted in Anthony Scaramucci's appointment, and swift dismissal, as the new communications director and the ouster of Reince Priebus as chief of staff.

The media had been closely watching Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain lately because of the revelation that he was battling brain cancer. However, late last week, the former presidential candidate was in the spotlight for an entirely different reason, as he cast the crucial surprise vote that killed Senate Republicans' last-resort Obamacare repeal bill ( the so-called "skinny" repeal ), joined GOP senators Susan Collins ( Maine ) and Lisa Murkowski ( Alaska ) as well as all the Democrats in opposing the measure that would have repealed key parts of the ACA.

Following the defeat, Trump tweeted, "3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!"

Regarding the DoJ, it filed an amicus brief saying that Title VII does not prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation—splitting from its previous stance as well as the position of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ). Now-deceased skydiving instructor Donald Zarda claimed he was fired because he was gay, arguing Title VII's ban on discrimination "based on ... sex" covers sexual orientation-based bias because it is tied to gender. ( Zarda died in a skydiving accident, and the executors of his estate are continuing the suit. )

However, the recent development that garnered the most attention in the LGBTQ community involved Trump's tweets calling for a ban on openly transgender people in the military, infuriating some and confusing others—just as the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said they were not aware Trump was planning to post his anti-trans initiative. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chair of the joint chiefs, has said there will be "no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidelines."

Among other things, Trump tweeted that the military cannot accept the burden of higher medical costs and "disruption" that transgender troops would require. However, ACLU of Illinois LGBT & HIV Project Director John Knight stated in a press release that "the Rand Corporation has estimated that the cost of medical care for transgender troops is approximately 1/100th of 1 percent of the military annual health care budge or, at most, $8.4 million per year. To claim otherwise is to lie about the data."

Reaction from the LGBT community regarding Trump's military tweets was swift. OutServe-SLDN issued a release saying, "In his latest example of pseudo-policy-by-twitter, Donald Trump has shown blatant disregard for transgender service members who have been serving openly since October 2016. The disruptive burden to the military comes from indecision in a White House which itself is not focused on victory if it's targeting service members. The readiness, effectiveness, and lethality of the Armed Services comes from the commitment of our troops—not the vagaries and bigotry of exclusionary policies."


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