Behind Trump’s Transgender Ban, A Political Calculus

Donald Trump has long evinced a live-and-let-live attitude toward gay, lesbian, and transgender people. And so when President Trump abruptly announced, via Twitter, a ban on military service by transgender people, Washington was dumbstruck.

But Mr. Trump had political reasons to play that card. Foremost, the president needs a legislative victory, and by giving House conservatives what they wanted on transgender troops, he has paved the way for passage of a key military spending bill. That bill includes funding for the wall on the US-Mexico border.

A secondary benefit, Republican analysts say, is a boost to the morale of social conservative voters. Frustration has been rising over Trump’s inability to effect much of his agenda, and there’s concern that turnout could be low in next year’s midterm elections. Lack of enthusiasm by conservative voters could cost Republicans control of the House.

“The top issue is getting the defense budget through, and getting legislative wins. You’ve got to trade,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “This is a casualty of politics, not a casualty of Trump being anti-gay.”

Trump’s sudden announcement Wednesday was tempered a bit Thursday, when the nation’s top general announced that current policy would remain in effect until the secretary of Defense had received the president’s direction and had issued implementation guidance.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at the Christian Science Monitor

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Analysis & Political Strategy