December 30th, 2021
Dear Governor Cox,
The Salt Lake County Republican Party holds our military in the highest regard. Our party platform states, “We strongly support and honor the selfless service and sacrifices of Utah’s military service members and veterans along with their families.”
The members of the National Guard are currently under threat of a vaccine mandate. The various branches of the armed services are gloating about how they are rarely granting medical exemptions and are not granting any religious accommodation requests as required by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Our party platform states that “[w]e claim freedom of religion for every citizen and expect the protection of government in securing to us this unalienable right.” Without your intervention, many Utah National Guard members will be discharged for non-compliance. As the Commander in Chief of the Utah National Guard, you have the responsibility to protect the rights, including the religious rights, of our Utah National Guard service members. Utah must retain authority over its own National Guard.
We call on you to defend the rights of our Utah National Guard service members by standing with the governors of Oklahoma, Wyoming, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Texas. We ask you to say NO to the unconstitutional mandates forced upon those who have already given so much.
A strong stance against President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate may result in the loss of some federal funding. However, it is no secret that most Utahns oppose using our tax dollars to force compliance. The decision to receive any vaccination should be between a patient and their doctor. We should never be apathetic toward anyone’s individual rights to make their own health decisions, especially the Utah National Guard, who sacrifice to protect our freedoms.
The mandate comes from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and “is hypocritical in that Secretary Austin addresses the importance of medical readiness… but fails to mention that, unlike active-duty personnel, National Guard members are not provided health care and must purchase it themselves. If medical readiness is truly that high of a priority to the Department of Defense, it should provide health care for all National Guard Soldiers and Airmen like it does for active duty service members.” (“Governor Stitt, Attorney General O’Connor Sue Biden Administration Over National Guard Vaccine Mandate”)
Some estimate that more than 60,000 service members nationwide will be discharged due to the mandate. Others are choosing to retire earlier than planned, resigning, or choosing not to reenlist. This unplanned reduction in force causes a significant strain on the defense of our nation. We cannot afford to weaken our military in this climate of uncertainty. Utah needs a robust and well-trained National Guard to deal with any emergencies in our state. Moreover, with so many growing threats to our nation and allies, we should be focusing on building our national defense rather than needlessly reducing its strength.
The Salt Lake County Republican Party calls on you to take a strong stand on this issue to protect our Utah National Guard from unfair and unconstitutional treatment from the Biden Administration.
Salt Lake County Republican Party Chair