“I am inspired by Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann’s leadership and am honored that he will be attending the State of the Union as my guest,” the presidential hopeful said in a Monday morning statement to HuffPost.
Dremann has been deployed 11 times and has won numerous accolades including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. The active-duty Navy Lieutenant Commander is also the president of SPARTA, an LGBT Military Advocacy organization that educates service members on trans military policies.
“Lieutenant Commander Dremann is a proud member of the U.S. Navy, he is a loyal patriot who has devoted his career to serving and protecting our country, and he is also one of the thousands of transgender service members serving in our military with honor and distinction,” Gillibrand added in her statement.
Patriots like Lt. Commander Blake Dremann—the first openly transgender servicemember to be promoted in our military’s history, and the president of @sparta_pride—make our armed forces and our country stronger. I’m honored he’ll be joining me at the State of the Union. pic.twitter.com/hzjIiMll5U
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 4, 2019
Her announcement comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow President Donald Trump’s ban on trans people serving in the military. The narrow 5-4 ruling will temporarily reinstate the ban, but several lawsuits in lower courts are still pending.
Trump announced the ban in a series of tweets in July 2017; a move he did not consult integral government agencies on before reporting his decision.
In her Monday statement, Gillibrand commended the “extraordinary sacrifices” transgender military personnel like Dremann make every day, calling the Trump administration’s ban “cruel.”
“Any transgender American who meets the standards should be able to sign up to join our Armed Forces,” she added.
The Democratic senator from New York plans to introduce new legislation to protect trans service members later this week, which aims to prohibit the Department of Defense from kicking people out of the military based on their gender identity.
Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been a champion for marginalized service members including speaking out on the epidemic of sexual assault in the military and leading the effort to repeal the homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.