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Trump's trans military ban to be enforced while challenges proceed, groups respond
From press releases
2019-01-22

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SCOTUS Allows Challenges to Trump's Transgender Military Ban to Continue in Lower Courts

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today denied the Trump administration's request that it hear legal challenges to Trump's transgender military ban this term, allowing the cases to proceed in the lower courts. In a separate order, the Court granted the administration's request to allow the ban to go into effect temporarily while the cases against it proceed.

Plaintiffs challenging the ban include transgender men and women serving in all branches of the military, including some who have completed multiple deployments overseas. Plaintiffs also include service academy and ROTC members, as well as individuals seeking to enlist. Equality California is an organizational plaintiff challenging the ban on behalf of its members. Attorneys from GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD ) and National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) represent plaintiffs in two cases challenging the ban, Doe v. Trump and Stockman v. Trump.

"In declining to hear these cases, the Supreme Court saw through the administration's contrived efforts to gin up a national crisis." said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. "Unfortunately, the Court's stay of the lower courts' preliminary orders means that courageous transgender service members will face discharges while challenges to the ban go forward. The Trump administration's cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review."

"Our country owes a debt of gratitude to the thousands of transgender people serving in our armed forces," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. "Multiple federal courts have recognized that excluding qualified individuals simply because they are transgender is contrary to basic constitutional principles of equality and fairness. We are confident the courts will ultimately protect the integrity of our nation's military and hold that transgender service members must be evaluated based on the same standards applied to all others, not barred from service based on a characteristic that has no relevance to their fitness to serve."

President Trump first announced that he was banning military service by transgender people in July 2017, without consultation with military leadership. Before Trump ordered the ban, transgender people were permitted to serve under a policy that has now been in place for more than two and a half years.

"Thousands of brave transgender troops around the world are currently serving our nation with honor," said Rick Zbur, Executive Director at Equality California, which brought Stockman v. Trump on behalf of its members. "Their patriotism and sacrifice should be celebrated, not cruelly dismissed by a president who clearly cares more about delivering on campaign promises than he does about our national security."

NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging the Trump transgender military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9, 2017.

For more information, go to NCLR and GLAD's website outlining the history and status of the Trump-Pence transgender military notransmilitaryban.org/ .

—From a NCLR and GLAD press release

* * *

Supreme Court Declines Transgender Military Ban Cases but Permits Enforcement of Ban for Now

(Washington, DC, January 22, 2019) — The U.S. Supreme Court today denied petitions from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asking that the Court review preliminary federal district court rulings that have kept the Trump-Pence administration from implementing its discriminatory plan to prevent transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services.

However, the Supreme Court granted the DOJ's request for a stay on the preliminary rulings, allowing the administration to begin kicking openly transgender troops out of the armed services and to deny transgender people the opportunity to enlist. The preliminary rulings include one out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in the lawsuit brought by OutServe-SLDN and Lambda Legal and joined by the State of Washington challenging the constitutionality of the proposed ban.

"For the past two-and-a-half years, thousands of qualified, transgender individuals have made our nation's armed forces better, in every measurable quality, with their authentic service," OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Andy Blevins said. "The Court's decision to allow the Trump-Pence Administration to institute their wanting and discriminatory practices while the litigation proceeds is disappointing — our siblings-in-arms deserve better. We look forward to continuing our representation of these proud and selfless patriots, and reminding this Administration that military policy cannot be defined by baseless and discriminatory rationalizations."

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), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA). The State of Washington later joined the lawsuit. The district court in, December 2017, granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction preventing implementation of the ban, which DOJ chose not to challenge on appeal, and the court reaffirmed that preliminary ruling in April 2018 after the Trump administration released an implementation plan. The administration appealed that latter ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral argument on October 10, 2018.

"The Supreme Court's decisions today are perplexing to say the least: on the one hand denying the Trump administration's premature request for review of lower court rulings before appellate courts have ruled and rebuffing the administration's attempt to skirt established rules; and yet on the other allowing the administration to begin to discriminate, at least for now, as the litigation plays out,"Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said. "For more than 30 months, transgender troops have been serving our country openly with valor and distinction, but now the rug has been ripped out from under them, once again. We will redouble our efforts to send this discriminatory ban to the trash heap where it belongs."

In addition to Karnoski v. Trump, the administration also asked the Supreme Court to review the preliminary rulings in Stockman v. Trump and Doe v. Trump, lawsuits also challenging the ban filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). Doe v. Trump was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that DOJ appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Stockman v. Trump was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and is also on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Last week, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals dissolved the preliminary injunction in Doe v. Trump, but the preliminary injunctions in Karnoski v. Trump and Stockman v. Trump, as well as in a fourth case out of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, remain in effect.

Read more about Karnoski v. Trump here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/karnoski-v-trump. The Lambda Legal attorneys working on the case are: Peter Renn, Diana Flynn, Camilla B. Taylor, Tara Borelli, Paul Castillo, Sasha Buchert, and Kara Ingelhart. 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 of Organizational Plaintiffs:

"Allowing Donald Trump and Mike Pence's transgender troop ban to go into effect harms both transgender service members and our national security," said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. "As this critical matter makes its way through the courts, brave transgender patriots deserve to have their constitutional rights protected. Today's decision thrusts this administration's discriminatory agenda onto a military that clearly doesn't want it, and does so at the expense of transgender people's careers and service - and we remain committed to fighting for all transgender troops and thank Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN for their tireless work representing us in this case."

"Our military families are incredibly alarmed right now by the court's decision to lift the injunctions that were blocking implementation of the Trump-Pence administration's unconscionable transgender military ban," said American Military Partner Association (AMPA) President Ashley Broadway-Mack, spouse of an active duty U.S. Army officer. "The thousands of transgender military members and their families serving our nation right now deserve better than this decision, which has compounded the tremendous amount of uncertainty these military families were already facing. Our only hope is that justice will ultimately prevail over blatant bigotry and discrimination when the court hears the full arguments of our case."

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 .

—From an OutServe-SLDN press release

* * *

Equality Illinois responds to the Supreme Court's ruling allowing Trump's cruel Trans military restrictions

Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state's civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Illinoisans, issued the following statement:

Today's Supreme Court ruling lifting two injunctions against Trump's cruel ban on Trans military service is a slap in the face to Trans service members who have been serving with honor and distinction, many on the front lines. While the ban is not yet in effect, the Court's decision to lift the injunctions blocking the ban means that Trans service members could soon face discharges.

Rejecting the brave military service of Trans Americans is contrary to our nation's best values. Our military is strongest when it reflects the full diversity of our broad American community and when all Americans are welcomed to serve. The military's own research shows Trump's ban weakens our military. The proposed ban will eventually mean losing qualified, trained service members and will eventually deprive the military of qualified recruits at a time when enlistment numbers are already low.

Equality Illinois will continue to stand with the Trans Community. We oppose this cruel and irrational ban, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish Trans service members for their patriotism and service.

From an Equality Illinois press release

About Equality Illinois

At Equality Illinois we envision a fair and unified Illinois where everyone is treated equally with dignity and respect and where all people live freely regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We work hard to promote legislation to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals; maintain the visibility of LGBTQ issues; oppose legislation which seeks to limit the civil rights of the LGBTQ community; and expand statewide grassroots support.

* * *

Quote from the American Military Partner Association

"Our military families are incredibly alarmed right now by the court's decision to lift the injunctions that were blocking implementation of the Trump-Pence administration's unconscionable transgender military ban," said American Military Partner Association (AMPA) President Ashley Broadway-Mack, spouse of an active duty U.S. Army officer. "The thousands of transgender military members and their families serving our nation right now deserve better than this decision, which has compounded the tremendous amount of uncertainty these military families were already facing. Our only hope is that justice will ultimately prevail over blatant bigotry and discrimination when the court hears the full arguments of our case."

The American Military Partner Association — the nation's largest organization of LGBTQ military families. AMPA is also a co-organizational plaintiff in the case.

—From an American Military Partner Association press release

* * *

Added Jan. 24

DignityUSA Deplores Supreme Court Ruling Allowing Transgender Military Ban

January 23, 2019. Boston, MA. DignityUSA, the organization of Catholics that has been working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people in church and society for fifty years, denounced the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows the Trump administration to bar many transgender people from U.S. military service while the policy is being reviewed by lower courts.

"It is disturbing that the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing such a blatantly discriminatory policy to be in force for even a single day," said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA. "There is absolutely no legitimate reason to ban transgender people from serving our country. They have been doing so with honor and distinction for decades. The Trump administration's directive is clearly a concession to right wing extremists, particularly those who claim religious justification for such a ban. We represent the solid majority of Catholic voters in the US who support transgender protections, in the military and in all sectors of our society.[1] Sadly, President Trump has made our transgender service members pawns in a political battle. The Supreme Court's ruling does them a tremendous disservice."

Duddy-Burke noted that many, including top military officials, bipartisan lawmakers and national security officials have warned that the policy will harm our military readiness.

Linda Roberts, a transgender woman who serves as DignityUSA's Treasurer and Co-Chair of the group's Transgender Support Caucus, said, "It is DignityUSA's firm belief that transgender individuals who wish to serve in our nation's military are fully capable of doing so, and must be allowed the same opportunities as other Americans. We trust that the courts will ultimately rule that this policy violates our Constitution's Equal Protection clause. Until then, we stand with those fighting for the right to serve and continue their careers openly in their true gender. They must be safe, free from harassment, and supported by their command structure."

DignityUSA is part of several coalitions addressing the human and civil rights of LGBTQI people, including protections for those in the military. "We pledge to continue this important work. The Supreme Court's ruling reinforces the necessity of these efforts," said Duddy-Burke.

DignityUSA has worked for justice, equality and full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the Catholic church and in society since 1969. It is the world's oldest organization advocating for the rights of LGBTQI Catholics.

—From a DignityUSA press release


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