Leading conservative Christian activists are voicing their disapproval with the Republican-led House of Representatives after 24 GOP lawmakers voted against and helped sink an effort to bar federal tax dollars from being used to fund gender reassignment procedures for military service members.
Last Thursday, the House rejected an amendment proposed by by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., to the $696 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that lays out military budgets and expenditures.
Hartzler's amendment would have nixed the military's authority to fund hormone therapy, sex change surgeries and other treatment related to gender transition for transgender members of the military and their families. The amendment would have continued to fund mental health services related to gender dysphoria.
The measure comes after the Obama administration acted last year to end a ban on openly serving transgender service members and enacted a policy that funds costly transgender health services for members of the military who are medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
In total, the House voted 214-209 against Hartzler's amendment, with two dozen GOP representatives and 190 Democratic lawmakers voting against the measure. Additionally, six Republicans did not vote on the amendment (including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who has had multiple surgeries after being shot and critically injured by a gunman in June.)
On the House floor Thursday, Hartzler argued that "It makes no sense to create soldiers who are unable to fight and win our nation's wars and unfair to non transitioning individuals who must leave their families and deploy in their place." Hartzler stated that service members who undergo surgical transition would be non deployable for up to 267 days and "regular hormone treatments renders individuals nondeployable into the future."
Family Research Council president and prominent social conservative activist, Tony Perkins, accused the Republican lawmakers who voted against the bill of being "liberal enablers."
"Unfortunately for our men and women in uniform, not every Republican cares about national security as much as Hartzler does," Perkins wrote in his "Washington Update" blog. "When the Missouri congresswoman tried to stop the runaway train of transgenderism, 24 Republicans said, 'No thanks. We'd rather fund Obama's political correctness than restore the military.' By a 214-209 vote, they told troops, taxpayers, and Trump that they'd prefer to spend $3.7 billion on gender reassignments than the military's own assignment: to fight and win wars."
Among the Republicans who voted against Hartzler's amendment are Justin Amash of Michigan, Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Darrell Issa of California.
Mat Staver, a prominent social conservative lawyer and the chairman of the Liberty Counsel nonprofit that regularly defends the values of evangelical Christians in court, said in a statement that the amendment's rejection is a "tragedy for our country" and "was made possible by the 24 Republicans who betrayed the values of their constituents and their party platform."
"It is disheartening to see the best interests of our military spurned by weak representatives who caved to political demands, denying this critical opportunity to reject the Obama administration's appalling sex-reassignment mandate," Staver asserted. "This presidential edict requires the Department of Defense to take taxpayer's money allocated to support our national defense and use it to fund surgical procedures for those suffering from gender dysphoria."
The amendment's failure comes after Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that he was delaying the July 1 deadline for the armed services to begin accepting transgender applicants by six months in order to allow the military leaders to study the new policy further.
Considering that the new policy was enacted by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter last summer, service members have already been forced to go through training on the new policy. It has even been reported that female Army soldiers have been instructed by a transgender training PowerPoint to accept having biological men in their showers.
CNN reports that Congressional aides have disclosed that Mattis called Hartzler on Thursday and asked her to pull the amendment before the vote. The call was confirmed by a Pentagon official.
"The Trump administration prides itself on being politically incorrect. There's no better time to prove it than now, when the future of national security hangs in the balance," Perkins wrote. "If Congress won't act to protect our troops and taxpayers, the White House must. The American people rejected the Obama agenda in November. So why are we still letting it dictate our military policy?"
The amendment was among 200 other amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act being considered.