The U.S. Army has declined to pursue filing a formal reprimand against a decorated Texas chaplain following his social media comments saying transgender soldiers are "mentally unfit" and "unqualified to serve." In his now deleted Facebook page, U.S. Army Chaplain (Major) Andrew Calvert likened his argument of rejecting biology to rejecting the reality that the earth is flat.
Calvert's support of the Department of Defense's (DOD) exclusion of transgender service members, which was upheld by the Trump administration and reversed by the Biden administration, earned the chaplain a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand. His lawyers at First Liberty Institute argued for him by submitting a rebuttal to the investigation into his statements, CBN News reported. They also appealed the reprimand that potentially could end his 16-year career and tarnish his reputation.
On Thursday, First Liberty Institute announced that officials at the U.S. Army decided not to move forward with reprimanding the major, allowing for his record to be cleared and for him to be promoted. Mike Berry of First Liberty Institute said, "We're very happy for Chaplain Calvert and we commend the Army for making the right decision. No service member should ever be punished because of their religious beliefs."
Calvert's lawyers argued that his Facebook posts were posted at a time when transgender soldiers were not allowed in the military. The DOD's prohibition against transgender service members was only lifted in January, when President Joe Biden took office. This move fulfilled a campaign promise.
Reuters reported that in 2016, former President Barack Obama allowed transgender individuals to "serve openly and receive medical care to transition genders," a legislation that former President Donald Trump reversed in 2017. Trump however allowed those who were already serving to remain. This year, President Biden moved to lift the ban, with Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David saying, "The greatest military in the world will again value readiness over bias, and qualifications over discrimination."
Calvert believes otherwise, saying it is a "waste of military resources and funding" to allow transgender individuals to serve and gain access to the recently announced transgender surgeries funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He defended his statements, saying that they are "not the extreme in the slightest" and that his opposition is "the very definition of conservative."
The U.S. Army then issued a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand for violating DOD Directive 1344.10 and Army Regulation (AR) 600-20. Calvert was accused of failing to "[treat] people with dignity and respect" and abide by the Commander in Chief's policies "against all forms of discrimination on the bases of gender identity."
Following the U.S. Army's decision to absolve Calvert of any faults over his Facebook comments, the chaplain is just grateful to be able to get back to work. He said, "I am grateful for this favorable decision, and I look forward to continue meeting the spiritual needs of the soldiers with whom I serve."