Metro Weekly

LGBTQ groups ask court to keep injunction blocking transgender military ban in place

Lawyers for anonymous transgender troops argue their clients will be harmed if the ban is allowed to be implemented

The Pentagon. Photo: Department of Defense – Photo: Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force, via Wikimedia.

LGBTQ legal advocates are asking a federal court to reject the Trump administration’s latest attempt to implement a ban on transgender service members.

In the brief submitted to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders argued that the government’s contention that the implementation plan developed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is a “new” policy is nonsense.

They noted that the “new” policy is no different from the broad-based ban on transgender service members floated by President Trump via Twitter in July 2017, and urged Judge Kollar-Kotelly to keep her injunction in place.

“In direct response to President Trump’s orders, the military has produced an implementation plan that has the purpose and effect of ridding the military of transgender people from service,” Jennifer Levi, the director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, said in a statement. “The military’s own research on this topic shows that a ban weakens military strength. Transgender people have been courageous warriors. They have served on the front lines. The Trump-Pence administration owes them a debt of gratitude, not this kick in the teeth.”

The underlying lawsuit lodged against the Trump administration, known as Doe v. Trump, was brought on behalf of several anonymous transgender active-duty service members.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have argued that the ban singles out transgender Americans for disparate treatment because of their gender identity, as opposed to their ability to do their job.

Doe was the first of four separate lawsuits challenging the ban, and the first to win a preliminary injunction preventing military leaders from going forward with it.

To secure that injunction, lawyers with NCLR and GLAD successfully demonstrated that the ban is likely to be found unconstitutional, and that thousands of troops would be “irreparably harmed” if they were forcibly discharged under the ban.

Three other federal courts have since issued similar preliminary injunctions, with a California judge refusing to rescind his injunction despite repeated requests from the Trump administration.

In the meantime, the case is proceeding in federal court, with lawyers for the plaintiffs demanding the government turn over documents, including emails and other communication, that speak to the administration’s decision to push for the ban.

“Secretary Mattis was ordered to implement the President’s ban, and that’s what he did,” NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said in a statement. “Four federal courts have independently concluded that the ban is based on discrimination, not military needs, and that enforcing it would undermine our national security by excluding qualified individuals simply because they are transgender. The government has failed to show any reason for the D.C. Court of Appeals to reverse that conclusion and permit this harmful policy to go into effect.”

Attorneys for both sides are expected to appear in court on Dec. 10.

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

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