“I have fought too long and hard to end discrimination based on race and color to allow discrimination based on gender identity to be considered acceptable.
“This mean, misguided policy takes us back to another place, a darker time. How is it acceptable to target those who love our country so much that they put their bodies and livelihood on the lines for its defense? This is a sad and dark day.
“As a nation and as a people, all Americans should expect and deserve better. There is no place in our society for hate or bigotry. To punish any person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is a shame and a disgrace, but to penalize those who pledge to serve and protect our country is unconscionable.
“I stand with our transgender service members, and I pray that they will not lose heart. They must know that we love them. We respect them. We are grateful for their service and sacrifice, and most importantly, we will stand for their rights, just as they have stood for ours.”