Thursday's confirmation hearings for retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of defense, are expected to focus at least in part on his views on women and LGBT people in the military. Sitting Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all combat jobs to women in December of 2015, and the Obama administration officially ended the military's ban on gay troops in 2011 and transgender soldiers in 2016.
Mattis may wish to take a different course. While Trump himself is not a traditionalist on LGBT issues, Mattis has warned against the "progressive agenda" for the military and "an uninformed public ... permitting political leaders to impose an accretion of social conventions that are diminishing the combat power of our military." He has also questioned whether women are fit for "intimate killing" and whether combat life would pose a danger to their safety, not to mention privacy for "bodily functions."
Though his successful confirmation is anticipated, Mattis may also face opposition from Democrats where his waiver for civilian service is concerned. Because he retired from the military less than seven years ago, Congress must approve a waiver to allow him to take the defense role in addition to confirming his nomination. Several House Democrats have indicated they intend to vote against the waiver.