"Here in the [Intelligence Community], we have the chance to lead by example... in [Intelligence Community] facilities... you can use whatever restroom you feel comfortable and safe in," DNI James Clapper will say.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The nation’s top intelligence official stepped into the debate over transgender rights Wednesday during remarks at an annual LGBT pride event.
“I won’t dwell on the issue of transgender rights… I know our nation is currently engaged in a complex conversation… with strong feelings on both sides,” National Intelligence Director James Clapper will say at the fifth annual Intelligence Community Pride Summit according to prepared remarks. “But here in the [Intelligence Community], we have the chance to lead by example… So I’ll say without equivocation… in [Intelligence Community] facilities… you can use whatever restroom you feel comfortable and safe in.”
The comments will add another voice to the Obama administration’s calls to allow transgender people the right to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity. It will mark a rare foray into social issues for the intelligence leader.
Following the passage of a law in North Carolina that limited bathroom access, President Barack Obama sent a letter to public schools in May instructing them to allow students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity. His instructions led to a lawsuit from 11 states challenging the scope of the federal anti-discrimination law Obama used to justify the move.
Also Wednesday, the Defense Department held its own LGBT pride celebration as it weighs lifting a ban on open service for transgender troops.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter established a moratorium on dismissals based on gender dysphoria in July 2015, and was expected to announce an official decision on the matter within six months.
At the time, he established a working group to review whether “transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”
In June of 2015, the American Medical Association approved a resolution saying there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.”
A study commissioned by Carter and obtained by the New York Times found that allowing the estimated 2,450 active-duty transgender service members to openly serve would cost the Defense Department little and have no significant impact on readiness.
“The continued delay in lifting the ban on open service for transgender service members is frustrating and deeply disappointing for so many of our families,” Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association said in a statement following the Pentagon celebration.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Monday that he expects a decision from Carter “soon.”
“There continues to be progress on that front, even in the last few days,” he said.
“If you can meet the job standard, you should be able to do the job,” Navy Sec. Ray Maybus said at the Pentagon’s ceremony without mentioning transgender troops. He said that “there’s still work to be done.”
The Pentagon repealed its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy five years ago, allowing lesbian and gay members of the armed services to serve openly.
Last month, the Senate approved the first openly gay man as secretary of a service branch when Eric Fanning became Secretary of the Army.
“While gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members are able to serve openly, and same-sex spouses of service members rightfully receive equal spousal benefits, transgender service members and their families continue to wait in limbo for the Pentagon to update the outdated regulations that prevent them from serving openly,” Stephen Peters, a spokesperson for Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. “It’s far past time for those changes to be made.”
“The Pentagon Pride theme is not ‘Gay Pride.’ It’s ‘LGBT Pride,'” Sue Fulton, a former Army officer who heads military LGBT group SPARTA, wrote in the LGBT magazine The Advocate Wednesday.