President Donald Trump said Thursday he is "doing the military a great favor" by proposing a ban on transgender personnel in the military.
"It's been a very difficult situation, and I think I'm doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it," Trump said, referring to his July 26 Twitter comment that the government would no longer "accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military."
"As you know, it's been a very complicated issue for the military, it's been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I'm doing the military a great favor," he said.
Trump's latest remarks on the issue came in a question-and-answer session with reporters at his Bedminster, N.J., golf course and estate that was mostly taken up with the North Korean crisis.
Trump prefaced his remarks on the transgender issue by stating, "I have great respect for the community," an apparent reference to the gay community. "I think I've had great support, or I've had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes. But the transgender -- the military's working on it now."
His action appeared to blindside the Pentagon, which was in the process of a six-month review ordered by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to hear out the service chiefs on the integration of transgender personnel.
On July 27, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford issued a statement indicating that the military would not be making any changes on transgender personnel until Trump made clear his intentions.
"There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance," Dunford said in a memo to the service chiefs and senior enlisted advisers. It is unclear whether the Defense Department has received any guidance to date from the White House.
On Wednesday, two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of five service members against the proposed ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.
The suit, which charges that the ban would violate due process and equal protection rights under the Constitution, was filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
Responding to Trump's latest remarks, Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, an organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military spouses and their families, said:
"President Trump's shameful comments are an absolute insult to our nation's armed forces and a slap in the face to the thousands of transgender service members who are willing to risk their lives every day for this country."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.