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Legal challenge attempts to kill off Trump’s transgender ban for good

Nick Duffy January 26, 2018
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US President Donald Trump speaks during a working session with mayors in the East Room of the White House on January 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)


Donald Trump’s ill-fated ban on transgender troops is facing court action that could kill it off for good.

Donald Trump announced on Twitter last year that all transgender servicepeople would be purged from the US armed forces, claiming they were a burden on the military.

Four different courts issued rulings blocking the decision amid legal action, allowing transgender troops to join the military from January 1 this year.

And after their enrolment began, campaigners are now hoping that it will result in the end of the discriminatory policy.

And at least one transgender person will be there to challenge the ban on day one.

US troops
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN this week asked a federal district court to permanently block enforcement of the Trump Administration’s plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services.

The motion for summary judgment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeks a speedy resolution of the case..

Plaintiff Megan Winters, a 29-year-old woman and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C, said: “Without a court ruling, the possibility of being shoved back into the closet hangs over my head and every transgender service member’s head every day.

“It is impossible to overstate how damaging that uncertainty is to morale and military readiness.”

Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said: “Every single federal court to look at President Trump’s policy has already found that it reeks of undisguised and unlawful discrimination against qualified transgender people willing and able to serve our country, and it’s time to put the nail in the coffin for that policy.

“The facts are in and the court has what it needs to finally return this bigoted policy back to the dustbin of history, where it has always belonged. Every day that this clearly illegal ban lingers perpetuates harm to patriotic Americans who wish only to serve the country they love.”

US soliders
Marine Corps recruits practice drill (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The motion is the latest step in the lawsuit, brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN and joined by the state of Washington, challenging the ban.

In December, the federal district court issued an injunction barring the ban from being enforced during the litigation and requiring the military to honour the existing policy, under which transgender service members were allowed to serve openly, and transgender Americans seeking to join the military had a path forward for doing so.

Because of the injunction, transgender people were able to enlist starting January 1.

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

OutServe-SLDN Legal Director Peter Perkowski said: “The policy excluding transgender people from serving openly in the armed forced has never had a rational justification, still doesn’t and never will.

“There is no need for a trial to establish that. This motion asks the Court once and for all to put a permanent top to a policy so clearly damaging to this nation’s military readiness.”

HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride said: “It is clear that the military, transgender service members, and the American public are ready to move beyond this president’s cruel and unconstitutional ban on trans troops as quickly as possible.

“Following blow after blow to this order in federal courts, this motion for summary judgment has the potential to bring us one step closer to the speedy resolution that our brave service members deserve. Transgender people are currently enlisting and serving their country with distinction and it’s past time the White House and U.S. Department of Justice honors their service.”

getty trump

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN represent nine individual plaintiffs and three organizational plaintiffs — the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) – who joined the lawsuit on behalf of their transgender members harmed by the ban.

In October, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., granted a preliminary injunction in a similar lawsuit challenging the transgender military service ban filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). In November, a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland granted a preliminary injunction in a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In December, in addition to the ruling out of Seattle, a U.S. District Court judge in California granted a preliminary injunction in a case filed by Equality California, also joined by NCLR and GLAD. The D.C. and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeals denied the Trump Administration’s efforts to secure stays on open enlistment in the two earlier cases.

More: Donald Trump, Gay, LGBT, Trump, US

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