New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland became visibly emotional defending transgender military troops and thanking them for their service during a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on transgender military service Wednesday.
“I just first wanted to say to all of you that I am so grateful of your service to our country,” Haaland began, her voice cracking.
The freshman Democrat told the subcommittee that she came from a military family where both of her parents served.
“So, I understand that it’s, like as a country, all of us should value our veterans,” she continued, choking up, “and I just want you to know that regardless of what the president says, there are millions of Americans who appreciate the service that you have given to our country.”
President Donald Trump announced last year a decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed that decision to move forward.
Transgender active duty service members Navy Lt. Commander Blake Dremann, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King and Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Akira Wyatt testified at the subcommittee Wednesday.
Haaland spoke directly to them, and made a swipe at the president:
“It’s not everybody who would make a decision to say, ‘I would die for my country’ because a lot of people wouldn’t and I believe if there’s one person that isn’t fit to serve, we all know who that is right now because that person devalues things that people want to do to make our country better and move it forward and although I can’t apologize for that person I will tell you that I will do everything in my power to bring back some civility and respect to the people who are serving our country.”
Watch the video below:
“Regardless of what the president says, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐞.” – a tearful @RepDebHaaland at a congressional hearing on the #TransMilitaryBan. pic.twitter.com/afO363Jbuv
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) February 28, 2019
Haaland has made her intent to fight for transgender military rights known in the past.
When the Supreme Court announced their decision on letting the Defense Department move forward with plans to restrict transgender troops’ service, she displayed a transgender flag outside her door as a sign of solidarity.
— Rep. Deb Haaland (@RepDebHaaland) January 23, 2019
After the hearing, Haaland doubled down on her support for transgender troops. “I will always stand up against discrimination,” she tweeted.