From Lambda Legal: Court Orders U.S. Military to Immediately Halt Ban of Transgender Troops
SEATTLE (December 11, 2017) Today, a federal court in Seattle ordered an immediate halt to the Trump Administration's discriminatory plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services. The ruling came in the lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN challenging the ban and prevents the ban from being implemented while the case proceeds.
"There is no valid reason to deny transgender people the right to serve their country. The court heard that argument, and agreed," Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said. "Before the President's vicious attack on transgender Americans, transgender service members had been serving openly and proudly in every branch of the U.S. Military. Today's ruling allows them to continue to do the job of defending our country while the case continues. With yet another court ruling that the President has engaged in unlawful discrimination, the policy's days are clearly numbered, and its final demise can't come fast enough for those whose military careers hang in the balance."
Today's ruling came in response to the motion for a preliminary injunction Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed in September in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The motion asked the Court to preliminarily enjoin the government from taking actions inconsistent with the military policy that existed prior to July 26, 2017, under which transgender service members were allowed to serve openly, and transgender Americans seeking to join the military had a path forward for doing so.
"I'm incredibly relieved to know that I can continue to do my job and serve our nation without the additional stress of worrying that I could be discharged as soon as next March," Staff Sergeant Cathrine Schmid said. "Being transgender has no impact on my ability to perform my duties, and I'm grateful that I will be able to continue to serve the people of the United States as this case moves through the courts."
"The President's 'guidance' to remove transgender service members from the United States armed forces and deny them healthcare was nothing less than the initiation of a purge," OutServe-SLDN Legal Director Peter Perkowski said. "This court has recognized the President's action for what it isa discriminatory attack on the people who have volunteered their lives for the defense of the country. Qualified and dedicated individuals serve our country each and every day in the armed services and thousands happen to be transgender. An individual's gender identity is not a valid reason to deny them the right to serve their country in uniform; a fact even the Pentagon has affirmed. Judge Pechman's ruling today is a testament to that argument and a step to reassure our transgender service members that this country will have their backs even if the Commander-in-Chief does not."
In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN represent nine individual plaintiffs and three organizational plaintiffs. The individual plaintiffs, all of whom are transgender, include:
Staff Sergeant Cathrine ("Katie") Schmid, a 33-year-old woman and 12-year member of the U.S. Army currently serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, who has applied to become an Army Warrant Officer;
Petty Officer Terece Lewis, a 33-year-old woman and 14-year member of the U.S. Navy serving on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis out of Bremerton, Washington;
Chief Warrant Officer Lindsey Muller, a 35-year-old woman and 17-year member of the U.S. Army serving at Camp Humphreys near Seoul, South Korea;
Petty Officer Second Class Phillip Stephens, a 30-year-old man and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving at Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Florida;
Petty Officer Second Class Megan Winters, a 29-year-old woman and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.;
Ryan Karnoski, a 23-year-old Seattle man who currently works as a social worker and wishes to become an officer doing social work for the military;
Conner Callahan, a 29-year-old man who currently works in law enforcement in North Carolina;
Drew Layne, a recent high-school graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas, who is 17 years old and, with parental support, wants to join the Air Force; and
A ninth individual currently serving in the military who remains anonymous.
The organizational plaintiffs are the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), who joined the lawsuit on behalf of their transgender members harmed by the ban.
In October, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., granted a preliminary injunction in a similar lawsuit challenging the transgender military service ban filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, and in November, a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland granted a preliminary injunction in a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The lawsuit is Karnoski v. Trump. Read more about the case here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/karnoski-v-trump
The Lambda Legal attorneys working on the case are: Peter Renn, Jon W. Davidson, Camilla B. Taylor, Tara Borelli, Natalie Nardecchia, Sasha Buchert, Kara Ingelhart, and Carl Charles. They are joined by co-counsel Peter Perkowski of OutServe-SLDN. Also on the legal team are pro-bono co-counsel at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Newman Du Wors LLP.
Statements from Organizational Plaintiffs:
"We're thankful for this judge's decision which gives us hope that justice will prevail," said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. "Our transgender service members and their families deserve better than to be singled out by the Trump-Pence administration for discrimination. They deserve better than the uncertainty, fear, and turmoil President Trump's transgender ban has inflicted on their lives. At the end of the day, what matters is whether or not someone is qualified and willing to serve, not their gender identity."
"Gender Justice League is relieved by this injunction and the justice that it has served for our members," said Gender Justice League Executive Director Danni Askini. "We have seen our members' lives thrown into chaos since the July tweets barring open transgender service. We hope that this is the first step in bringing closure to this case and serving justice and equality for our members and their families who have been deeply impacted by the ban on transgender military service."
"Today's preliminary injunction is a victory in the fight against Donald Trump and Mike Pence's cruel and animus-fueled policy," said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. "Allowing this discriminatory ban to take effect would cause serious harm to our national defense and to the thousands of transgender people serving and wishing to serve their country. We thank Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN for representing us in this landmark case, and we are grateful that Judge Pechman has ruled against discrimination."
Palm Center Statement on Court Ruling Denying Trump Administration's Request to Delay Transgender Enlistment:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, released the following statement in reaction to today's court ruling denying the Trump Administration's request to delay transgender enlistment in the military:
"Today's announcement that the US military will accept transgender applicants as of January 1, 2018 reflects a simple reality: military and civil servants in the Pentagon have been preparing for accession for transgender Americans for more than two years. That is longer than the preparation the military had for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and accession of openly gay Americans. While the White House has claimed that an order to follow the military's own plan for accession would impose 'extraordinary burdens,' numerous professionals involved in that process (including a former Acting Under Secretary of Defense and three former Service Secretaries) and more than half a dozen current and former military professors have spoken out to say that the military is ready. The Pentagon's extensive study and preparation already occurred. That preparation and study includes a comprehensive study of transgender service by DOD, the adoption by DOD of fully inclusive policy, and the promulgation of numerous specific standards for transgender applicants. This step reflects that judgment, and the Pentagon is following good order and its own internal processes as well as respecting the judgment of the courts."
Read the statement by Military Professors and policy memo about troop readiness at the link: http://www.palmcenter.org/military-professors-refute-trump-administration-assertion-armed-forces-not-ready-transgender-recruits/
Read the statement by Eric Fanning at the link: http://www.palmcenter.org/former-senior-pentagon-official-disputes-trump-administration-claim-military-not-ready-for%e2%80%8b-transgender-applicants-2/
Read the statement by Brad Carson at the link: www.palmcenter.org/former-senior-pentagon-official-disputes-trump-administration-claim-military-not-ready-for%e2%80%8b-transgender-applicants/ .
The Palm Center is an independent research institute committed to sponsoring state-of-the-art scholarship to enhance the quality of public dialogue about critical and controversial issues of the day. Our research has been published in leading social science journals and extensively consulted and cited by US military leaders. The Palm Center seeks to be a resource for scholars, policymakers, journalists, opinion leaders, students and the public at large. For more information, visit us at www.palmcenter.org .
From a GLAD, NCLR news release
Federal Judge Rejects Trump Administration Request to Further Delay Transgender Military Enlistment, Judge Kollar-Kotelly Denies Request for Stay of Injunction, Reaffirms Enlistment Must Begin Jan. 1
( WASHINGTON, D.C., December 11, 2017 )Today, District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected a request from the Trump administration to stay her injunction against the transgender military ban and confirmed that the military must allow transgender recruits beginning January 1. Judge Kollar-Kotelly's decision reaffirmed the nationwide preliminary injunction in Doe v. Trump she first issued on October 30, halting Trump's transgender military ban. In their opposition to the Administration's request for a partial stay, NCLR and GLAD debunked Trump administration claims that the military is not ready to accept transgender recruits, citing a Palm Center policy report that called out the Trump administration for filing a court document that "rewrites the history of transgender military policy and distorts the evidence."
"Trump administration claims that our highly sophisticated military is unprepared to implement a minor policy change after more than a year of preparation are simply not credible," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. "The military has studied this issue extensively and determined that permitting qualified transgender people to enlist and serve will only strengthen our nation's armed forces. This administration's claim that allowing transgender people to enlist will lessen military preparedness is contradicted by the military's own conclusions."
"It's time to stop stalling and move forward," said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. "The military has had nearly a year and a half to be ready to implement an enlistment policy its own leaders created and adopted. High ranking military leaders who oversaw training when the military made the first changes to transgender service policies have said the military is ready to accept transgender enlistees. This administration needs to stop creating fake problems and get on with it."
Former United States Secretary of the Navy Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr. and military expert, scholar, and veteran Dr. George Richard Brown agreed with NCLR and GLAD and were cited in the opposition to the request for a stay. Former Secretary Mabus stated that based on his experience, allowing transgender candidates to enlist is not a complicated process and that nearly all of the necessary preparation had been completed when he left office more than a year ago: "It is inconsistent with my understanding of the status of those efforts and the working of military personnel to conclude that the military would not be prepared almost a year laterand six months after the date on which the policy was originally scheduled to take effect." Dr. Brown echoed this conclusion: "Based on my knowledge and experience, I do not agree that the military will be either unprepared or overwhelmed on January 1, 2018 to implement the transgender enlistment policy."
In Doe v. Trump, NCLR and GLAD argue that Trump's ban, first announced in a series of tweets, is unfounded and discriminatory because qualified and able transgender Americans who wish to enlist are barred from doing so for no military-related reason. The ban also demeans and stigmatizes qualified, capable transgender troops who are facing discharge along with the accompanying 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 9. The Trump administration lost the first round and appealed Judge Kollar-Kotelly's October 30 nationwide preliminary injunction to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, one court level below the United States Supreme Court. The preliminary injunction temporarily halts Trump's ban and requires equal treatment of transgender troops and enlistees while the legal challenge makes its way through the courts.
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 today, Monday, December 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. www.GLAD.org
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org