We promised to give President Donald Trump the chance to prove himself. That hasn’t changed. But we also promised we will speak out when we believe he is wrong.
That time has come.
He was fundamentally wrong to try to ban transgender people from serving in the armed forces. And, if as he said, he did it for the sake of military readiness, he failed. His decision, and the way he made the world aware of it, with a tweet, has sown chaos.
He said he made the decision after talking to his generals but the Pentagon was unaware of the decision or his intention to release it on Twitter at 6 a.m. Wednesday. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were unaware. As was top military man Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was a month into a six-month review of the military’s policy on transgender people.
And, of course, the men and women in uniform, like the rest of America, were blindsided. Put yourself in their boots. What if you were a transgender person in a combat role overseas?
What would you do. Stand down? Assume you had no job?
Of course, they did none of those. They did the job they were sworn to do, and we thank them for that.
But we cannot pretend the news had no effect on them. They were, in essence, told they no longer belong. And told that by their commander in chief.
Trump’s decision, to put it in the best possible light, was ill-conceived. Just how much damage it has done remains to be seen.
Fortunately, his military advisers are putting up some resistance. Nothing has changed, they assured our fighting men and women.
Trump, during the campaign, promised he’d protect the LGBTQ people. Once in office, he has forgotten, or forsaken, that promise. Besides the military ban, his Justice Department is arguing in court that it’s OK to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Only Trump can make this right. But to do so would require him to make one of the toughest decisions of his life. The decision to keep his ego in check and admit he was wrong.
Anything less would send our country down a dangerous path. Who next might be deemed unworthy by the commander in chief. Women? Gays? Blacks?
All at one time or another have been treated as second-class members of the armed services, and of society for that matter. But at least they are allowed to serve.
One day, America will reach the point at which we will look at a black person and simply see a person, will look at a gay man and see a man, will look at a lesbian and see a woman, will look at a transgender person and just see a person.
The military had been at the forefront. It integrated blacks long before society, for example. We hope it regains that lead.
We hope America learns to resist labeling people black and white, gay and straight, this and that.
Our president can help us get there. All he has to do is say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.