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Federal judge: Military must allow trans people to serve

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On Nov. 27 the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military spouses and their families, responded to a federal judge’s ruling that the military must move forward with previous plans to allow transgender individuals to enter the military starting on January 1, 2018.

The Trump administration is appealing the decision. The ruling clarifies an earlier decision in the case of Doe v. Trump that blocked President Trump’s transgender military ban. The court order can be found here.

“We’re grateful for this judge’s decision recognizing the fundamental principle that any qualified American — regardless of their gender identity — should be able to serve the country they love,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “This decision continues to give our military families hope that justice will ultimately prevail.”

In June 2016, the Department of Defense told transgender members of the armed forces it was safe to come out and serve openly and authentically, and estimates show there are thousands of transgender individuals currently serving in the military. Implementation of the open service policy involved more than a year of planning.

Transgender service members had to wake up around the world to tweets from their new commander-in-chief shamefully declaring he was reversing the policy and transgender people would not be able to serve in “any capacity.” In August, President Trump directed Secretary Mattis to implement the ban and gave him until February 21, 2018, to develop a plan.

The far majority of Americans disagree with the president and believe transgender people should be allowed to serve. There has been clear bipartisan outrage over the President’s attack, including from fifty-six retired generals and admirals who warned that the ban would degrade military readiness.

There are two federal court injunctions against Trump’s transgender military ban.

The lawsuit, filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)—was the first of four federal lawsuits to challenge President Trump’s transgender military ban and the first to secure a nationwide injunction halting the ban. The transgender attorneys leading the fight against Trump’s ban, Shannon Minter and Jennifer Levi, issued the following statements in response:

 

“Judge Kollar-Kotelly has once again confirmed that there is no legitimate reason to bar transgender people from military service,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “We are pleased that Judge Kollar-Kotelly confirmed her prior ruling that on January 1, transgender people who can meet the same qualifications as others will be eligible to enlist.”

 

“January 1 means January 1,” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. “That’s the date when the military can no longer deny transgender people from enlisting. The court’s earlier order was clear on that point. This latest ruling is an exclamation point, not that any was needed.”

 

In Doe v. Trump, NCLR and GLAD argue that Trump’s ban, first announced in a series of tweets, is irresponsible and discriminatory because qualified and able transgender Americans who wish to enlist have been barred from doing so and transgender service members have been demeaned and stigmatized and faced with the prospect of discharge and the loss of their professions, livelihoods, health care, and the post-military retirement they have worked hard to earn.

 

NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging President Trump’s military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9The Trump administration lost the first round and appealed Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s injunction to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, one court level below the United States Supreme Court.     

 

The two organizations are also co-counsel in a second suit challenging the ban, Stockman v. Trump, brought by Equality California. Oral argument in Stockman v. Trump is scheduled for Monday, December 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

 

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