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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Legislators invite trans service members to State of the Union, groups respond
2019-02-05

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( Washington, D.C., Feb. 5, 2019 ) — In preparation for President Trump's State of the Union Address, several Members of Congress have chosen to invite actively-serving and veteran transgender service members to attend the event as their honored guests:

Army Major Ian Brown will be attending as the guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi( D-CA, 12 ).

Navy Petty Officer Second Class Megan Winters will be attending as the guest of Representative Donald McEachin ( D-VA, 4 ). Petty Officer Winters serves as a plaintiff in Karnoski v. Trump, one of the class-action lawsuits challenging the Trump-Pence Administration's proposed ban on open transgender military service.

Army Captain Jennifer Peace will be attending as the guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ( D-CA, 12 ).

Navy Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann will be attending as the guest of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ( D-NY ).

Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland will be attending as the guest of Representative Jackie Speier ( D-CA, 14 ).

Navy Veteran Tavion Dignard will be attending as the guest of Representative Chris Pappas ( D-NH, 1 ).

For many of the legislators, the Supreme Court's recent decision to allow the current Administration to implement their ban on open transgender military service came into play.

"I am humbled that more than 15,000 selfless, transgender patriots will be represented on the House floor during the State of the Union Address, thanks to the invitations from several Members of Congress," said OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Andy Blevins. "Through their invitations, these legislators are reminding our nation of an important fact that our commander-in-chief seems to have forgotten—our nation's armed forces are not better despite open transgender military service, they are better because of their open and authentic service."

It is estimated that more than 134,000 of our nation's Veterans identify as transgender and more than 15,000 of our actively-serving patriots identify with a gender different than the sex they were assigned at birth. For the last thirty months, transgender individuals have been able to openly serve and enter our nation's armed forces.

"By bringing these highly trained, decorated service members to the State of the Union, members of Congress are helping to put a face to the thousands of transgender troops serving our nation around the world at this very moment," said American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) President Ashley Broadway-Mack. "Instead of being singled out by the Trump-Pence administration for discrimination, these patriotic Americans deserve our nation's utmost thanks and support for their sacrifices and service. We are grateful for the Members of Congress who have stood behind our transgender service members and their families through this incredibly difficult time."

"Day after day, our transgender service members prove just how capable they are," said SPARTA Communications Director Bryan Bree Fram. "Visible to their commanders, they are regularly recognized by the military for their accomplishments. Now, thanks to these legislators, their visibility is magnified, and the American people can get a glimpse of everything they do to support and defend the constitution and this nation."

OutServe-SLDN and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit, Karnoski v. Trump, in August 2017, on behalf of nine individual plaintiffs and three organizational plaintiffs — the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ), and the Seattle-based Gender Justice League. The State of Washington later joined the lawsuit. In addition to Karnoski v. Trump, Stockman v. Trump, Doe v. Trump, and Stone v. Trump, filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD ), and the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) respectively, are also challenging the proposed ban.

Read more about Karnoski v. Trump here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/karnoski-v-trump .

—From a press release

OutServe-SLDN ( OS-SLDN ) is the largest non-profit, legal services, advocacy and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. With more than fifty chapters and 60,000 subscribers around the world, OS-SLDN supports a professional network of LGBT military personnel and strives to create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org .


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