PHOTOS: Lawmakers Celebrate The Military, Honor Trans Members For The First Time

David Ortiz Military Appreciation Day 2019
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Former combat aviator for the U.S. Army, David Ortiz, VFW Post 1 program director in Denver, greets a well-wisher on the state House floor during Military Appreciation Day Friday Feb. 1, 2019.

The state capitol was packed with guests on Friday as lawmakers honored current and former members of the military.

Every lawmaker sat in the House chamber to recognize those missing in action, prisoners of war, Vietnam War veterans and the contributions of African American and Latino military members.

“Citizens have stepped up and served their country. In our current time when less than 1 percent are wearing the uniform, they and their families, many who are experiencing their seventh, eighth, deployment, we especially recognize the burden that they and their family face in defense of our country,” said Republican state Rep. Terri Carver from Colorado Springs, one of the main sponsors of one of the resolutions.

While Military Appreciation Day is an annual tradition, one new addition this year was the formal recognition of transgender military members, who are currently banned from serving in the military.

“I would like to acknowledge the LGBTQ members, especially transgender,” said Democratic state Rep. Brianne Titone, Colorado’s first transgender state lawmaker.

Last week the U.S. Supreme court upheld the Trump administration’s request to ban most transgender people from serving in the military while cases challenging the policy move through the courts. President Obama had lifted the ban in 2016. Supporters of the ban say transgender military members can be a distraction that limits the military’s effectiveness.

Titone also read a letter from Emma Shinn, a Castle Rock Marine veteran. Shinn served in the Marine Corps for 20 years before retiring in 2014. In 2016 she transitioned.

Shinn wrote that transgender people serve for the same reasons as everyone else: “Patriotism, sense of duty, opportunity, travel, education and love of country.