Today, as first reported by Politico Pro, the Modern Military Association of America (MMAA) — the nation’s largest non-profit organization for the LGBTQ military and veteran community — released a letter signed by prominent military, veteran and national security leaders and organizations urging Congress to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would make eligible for military service any qualified American who can meet standards, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion or sex — including gender identity or sexual orientation. 

The letter is signed by major national organizations such as the National Military Family Association, Blue Star Families, and others, along with numerous prominent military and national security experts, such as the Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, 75th U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, 22nd U.S. Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning and many more. The amendment is expected to be considered by the House Committee on Rules on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. 

“These prominent military, veteran and national security leaders know the critical importance of ensuring that the military is able to recruit the best and the brightest our nation has to offer, unhindered by discriminatory policies that have nothing to do with standards,” said MMAA Executive Director and Navy veteran Andy Blevins. “This NDAA non-discrimination amendment would undoubtedly strengthen military readiness and ensure that anyone who is qualified is able to serve — including transgender patriots. We urge Congress to advance this crucially important measure and send a powerful message of strength through diversity and inclusion.”

The letter states, “Many of us have served in the military or in national security roles despite historical barriers for people who share our background, appearance, convictions and stories. Many of us also work for organizations that advocate for members of underrepresented groups who have made sacrifices for our nation. These experiences inform our belief that a military open to all who meet standards, without prejudicial barriers, makes our nation stronger and safer. We also know firsthand the power of Congress’ voice in signalling acceptance and support for those who serve despite facing discrimination.”

Read the full letter and list of signatories here.

Introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the HASC MilPers Subcommittee, along with Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Anthony Brown (D-MD) and Susan Davis (D-CA), the amendment text can be found here

The measure would simply put into statute the Department of Defense’s own inclusive language used in its military equal opportunity program. The 2016 DoD Directive 1020.02E, Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity in the DoD, states equal opportunity is “critical to mission accomplishment, unit cohesiveness, and military readiness.” The directive states that all service members should be “afforded equal opportunity in an environment free from harassment, including sexual harassment, and unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity), or sexual orientation.”