Metro Weekly

California added as plaintiff in lawsuit against Trump military ban

AG Xavier Becerra argues ban hurts California's ability to marshal its National Guard in times of crisis

California AG Xavier Becerra – Photo: Office of the California Attorney General.

A federal judge has given the green light for California to join a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s ban on transgender military members after Attorney General Xavier Becerra asked to intervene in the case.

Becerra had asked to intervene in the case by claiming the ban, which is slated to take effect in March 2018, compromises the ability of the California National Guard to recruit and retain the best talent that can be called upon in case of a natural disaster or civil unrest. He also noted that refusing transgender individuals admittance to the California National Guard violates state laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, and threatens California’s ability to safeguard public institutions of higher learning from discrimination in ROTC programs.

“Our state is home to more than 130,000 active duty military personnel, in addition to more than 56,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves,” Becerra said in a statement in which he called out President Trump for pushing a “prejudicial and discriminatory agenda.”

“We are ready to get to work to defend the rights of transgender service members and those who seek to enlist in our armed forces,” he added.

The National Guard has been deployed in emergency situations more than 40,000 times since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011. Currently, there are about 18,000 service members in the California National Guard. Most recently, National Guard troops in California were deployed to the state’s “wine country” region to help combat massive wildfires.

By joining the case of Stockman v. Trump — one of four currently active lawsuits challenging the ban, on transgender troops — Becerra hopes to lend his legal expertise to obtain an injunction preventing the president and the Pentagon from implementing such a ban, and eventually have the move declared unconstitutional.

In addition to granting Becerra’s motion to intervene, the court also rescheduled a Nov. 20 hearing, at which the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were expected to argue for an injunction, to Monday, Dec. 11. The court also requested that the plaintiffs and the government provide them with additional briefs outlining their arguments.

The organizations representing the plaintiffs, which include seven transgender military members or prospective recruits and Equality California, on behalf of its transgender members, welcomed the addition of Becerra to their side.

“This is an important development in the fight to stop Trump’s transgender military ban for good,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. “In taking this action, the court recognized the crucial perspective our state with the largest military population brings to bear on the serious question it is being asked to address regarding the harms of this ban.”

“Today we take another step forward in beating back Trump’s reckless ban,” Jennifer Levi, the director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, said in a statement. “It is incredibly significant to have the state of California — the most populous state in the nation — with us in this fight for service members, for those who wish to enlist, and for the stability and strength of the military.”

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