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Advocates prepare to fight trans military ban
by Matt Simonette
2017-08-30

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According to Lambda Legal CEO Rachel Tiven, the Trump administration's ban on military service by transgender individuals is "an insult. It's discrimination and a waste of resources."

Tiven and other Lambda Legal officials, on Aug. 29, hosted a telephone conference to delineate the next steps in a lawsuit the organization literally filed at the crack of dawn the day before.

Lambda and OutServe-SLDN, on Aug. 28, filed a lawsuit at 6 a.m. PST in federal court in Seattle challenging the ban. The suit is on behalf of three individuals adversely affected, as well as two organizations, Human Rights Campaign and the Gender Justice League, a Seattle-based advocacy.

According to Legal Director Jon Davidson, Lambda and Outserve-SLDN chose to sue in the Pacific Northwest because, "We felt that it was important to serve in a place where there is a strong military presence … and where we felt there were fair judges."

The individuals suing include one openly transgender officer who would no longer be eligible for a new appointment if the ban takes effect as scheduled in March. The other two individuals are trans persons wishing to enlist but will now be ineligible.

Tiven said that this is the third time that Lambda has hurriedly prepared for a legal challenge against one of President Donald Trump's directives, though the military ban was the first time that directive actually came to fruition. Davidson added that the organization began preparing when Trump announced the ban via Twitter.

Attorneys in the case are now "huddling," Davidson said. "Our goal is to try to get as quick a ruling as we can that will help people."

Trump, the United States of America, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and the Department of Defense are named as defendants in the case.

Tiven noted not just the human cost of the ban, but the financial one as well. It costs the military—the nation's largest employer—$75,000 to replace a person who leaves, meaning that implementing a ban will cost about a billion dollars in the long run.

"We expect that this is going to a hard road, but this is a road we've been down before," said Tiven, who added that Lambda has had 10,000 new donors since the November election. "…We will fight this and we will win."

Sasha Buchert, a Lambda staff attorney, also spoke on the Aug. 29 call.


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