A second federal judge has issued an injunction to stop the Trump administration from implementing a proposed ban on transgender soldiers.
U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis, of the District of Maryland, ruled that active-duty service members are “already suffering harmful consequences” because of the policy.
Garbis struck at the heart of arguments put forth by the Department of Justice on behalf of the White House and the Pentagon.
Previously, the government had argued that the lawsuit in Stone v. Trump, brought on behalf the ACLU of Maryland and six active-duty personnel, should be dismissed because they had not been harmed by a yet-to-be-implemented ban.
The government specifically argued that an interim policy, which allows transgender troops to continue serving openly through the beginning of March 2018, did not prevent the plaintiffs from serving or choosing to enlist or re-enlist — and therefore, could not be viewed as “irreparably harming” the plaintiffs in the case.
Much like Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the Doe v. Trump case out of D.C., Garbis decided to issue the injunction, noting that the plaintiffs had a reasonable likelihood of succeeding in proving that the ban violates their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection and their Fifth Amendment right to due process.
But Garbis’ ruling goes even further than the Doe decision, also blocking the Trump administration from attempting to deny transgender service members coverage for any treatments that have been deemed medically necessary, including gender confirmation surgery.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated to the Court’s satisfaction that they are likely to suffer imminent harm as a result of the Directives in the President’s Memorandum,” Garbis writes in his ruling. “They have further demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans, and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments.
“Waiting until after the Directives have been implemented to challenge their alleged violation of constitutional rights only subjects them to substantial risk of even greater harms,” he concluded.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs in the Stone case, celebrated Garbis’ ruling.
“Today is a victory for transgender service members across the country,” Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement. “We’re pleased that the courts have stepped in to ensure that trans service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
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