Metro Weekly

LGBTQ groups in second lawsuit against Trump trans ban seek injunction

Underlying lawsuit argues ban violates trans service member's constitutional rights

Photo: Eric Draper, White House, via Wikimedia.

The LGBTQ organizations behind a second lawsuit challenging President Trump’s ban on transgender military members have asked for a federal court to issue an injunction that would stop the Department of Defense from carrying out the ban.

The lawsuit was brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN on behalf of six transgender military members and three transgender people who wish to enlist, as well as the Human Rights Campaign, Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partner Association. It seeks to have the policy declared unconstitutional because it violates transgender service members’ right to equal protection, due process, and free speech.

“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 for more than a year,” Peter Renn, a senior attorney for Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

“Since the President’s tweets, and his mandate for the Pentagon to implement his ban, those same service members have been branded as unfit to serve — to do the jobs they have been doing successfully — simply because they are transgender. That harm is real, it is palpable, and it is discriminatory.”

Specifically, the LGBTQ groups’ motion asks the court for a preliminary injunction that would prevent the government from taking actions inconsistent with the military policy that existed prior to July 26. Under that policy, started by the Obama administration, any service member who was already active was allowed to come out without fear of being forcibly discharged, and the military branches were looking at ways on how best to accommodate transgender new recruits.

“After the Defense Department assured transgender service members it was safe to come out and serve openly, President Trump is now singling them out for blatant discrimination,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement. “This shameful assault threatens the service member and his or her entire military family….Any qualified American, regardless of their gender identity, should be able to serve their country.”

Earlier on Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed its own lawsuit against the ban, filed a separate request for an injunction to bring an “immediate halt” to the Pentagon’s implementation of the policy until their lawsuit is resolved in the courts. The ACLU is arguing that not only is the ban unconstitutional, but that it singles out a minority for disparate treatment due to animus against that group.

“We know from our members about the fear and uncertainty created first by President Trump’s tweets and now the memo,” Danni Askini, the executive director of Gender Justice League, said in a statement. “Current transgender service members and those wanting to enlist are now in a constant state of limbo as the result of a hateful and counterproductive policy. We are hopeful the courts will uphold their duty to our ideals and halt this policy by granting the requested injunction.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com