The Space Force’s top civilian human resources pushed back at a hearing Wednesday against a Space Force general’s prior suggestion that LGBTQ laws factor into decisions on where to station personnel.
A top Space Force general condemned state laws banning sex changes and gender education, primarily introduced or passed in Republican-governed states, claiming that they are a threat to military readiness at an official Department of Defense Pride Month commemoration in June. However, Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Human Capital Katharine Kelley denied that Space Force policy permits superior officers from dictating assignments based on state laws, appearingto contradict the general’s claim.
“It certainly doesn’t reflect what our processes are,” Kelley told the House Armed Services Committee at the hearing Wednesday.
The more than 400 laws introduced at the state level in 2023, including bans on gender transition treatments, pose a “danger” to LGBTQ+ servicemembers, Space Force Chief Operations Officer Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt claimed in June. Those laws “compelled” Burt to “consider” stationing Space Force leaders where state policies accommodate their sexual and gender identities and put less qualified individuals on assigments in states perceived as anti-LGBTQ, Burt said.
“What was she talking about?” Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz asked.
Kelley said her understanding was that “her intent behind those comments is that she was describing the assignments matching process.”
“I get that, that’s pretty evident. In that assignments matching process, should a state’s abortion policy come into play?”
Kelley declined to speak for Burt.
“What we take into account in the Space Force is the needs of the service, the guardian themselves and whether they’re qualified for the job. We take into account the preference of the individual if they’re interested in the particular job,” Kelley said.
“OK, fascinating. I’m not asking about any of those things. I’m asking if you take into account a state’s abortion policy, or a state’s LGBTQ policy,” Gaetz retorted.
“We do not,” Kelley said.
Gaetz said he sent a letter to Burt asking about the 400 laws affecting LGBTQ persons, but Kelley denied the Space Force maintained a list of laws impacting military readiness.
Florida’s views on critical race theory would not be an acceptable reason to reassign personnel, nor would bans on abortion or owning firearms, Kelley said. The Guardian would have to clearly prove such state laws or positions create a hardship in order to be placed in a different assignment, but those issues are unlikely to meet the Space Force’s standard for approving a hardship exception.
“If General Burt has gone rogue and engaged in some [sic] act to create a secret list of 400 policies that she deems discriminatory, I would like to see them,” Gaetz said.
Kelly defended Burt, saying that the general used language she was “compelled to consider” rather than claiming to have actually made assignment decisions on the basis of access to transgender treatments. The general remains in her post, according to Kelly.
“I certainly see how that could be construed” to undermine public trust in the military, Kelly conceded.
The Space Force did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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