California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with 18 fellow Attorney Generals, has sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to add language to the federal National Defense Authorization Act that would explicitly prohibit discrimination against transgender persons who currently serve in or wish to join the U.S. military.

The letter was sent to Senators John McCain and Jack Reed and Congress members Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith, the Chairs and Ranking Members of the United States Senate’s and House of Representative’s Armed Services Committees.

The letter requests that the Senators and Congress members join the Attorneys General in opposing President Trump’s recent announcement of a policy to ban transgender individuals from the United States Armed Forces.

“When someone makes the decision to devote his or her life in defense of our freedom and security, the last thing we should do is discriminate against that person,” Becerra said.

“The United States Armed Forces have long been associated with honor, dignity, and respect in the fight to advance equality and justice at home and abroad. President Trump aims to change that by taking the military down a discriminatory path rooted in malicious bias towards members of our LGBTQ community. There is neither honor, dignity nor respect in that.”

In the letter, the Attorneys General emphasize that President Trump’s announced policy is not only blatantly discriminatory, but would marginalize transgender individuals who make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of our country.

Last week, the highest-ranking member of the United States military, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford, released a statement to military leaders explaining there would be no modifications to existing policy until President Trump could provide further direction to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The U.S. Department of Defense further clarified that the office was awaiting formal guidance from the White House and would continue defending the nation while treating service members with respect.

Other Attorneys General joined on the letter are from Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Becerra has also joined an amicus brief in support of transgender rights for veterans in the case “Fulcher v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs” before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The brief defends a veteran’s right to health care coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs for medically necessary care, including sex reassignment surgery.

A copy of the letter sent to Senators McCain and Reed, and Congressmen Thornberry and Smith, can be viewed at oag.ca.gov/news.

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