A federal judge who had earlier blocked Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the transgender military ban has now denied the administration’s request to delay enlistment of new trans troops beyond January 1.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today issued a clarification of her October 30 injunction, which keeps the ban from going into effect while a court case against it proceeds, the Washington Blade reports. The Trump administration had asked whether her ruling prohibited Defense Secretary James Mattis from extending the delay on new enlistments, arguing that she could not have intended such a prohibition because she had not challenged Mattis’s authority to do so.
Not so, Kollar-Kotelly said in the order issued today. Her original ruling, she wrote, was to return the policy on military service by transgender Americans to what it was when the Obama administration lifted the ban June 30, 2016, with the one modification by Mattis that delayed enlistment of new trans troops until January 1, 2018. Under the Obama policy, new enlistments were to have begun July 1 of this year.
“Any action by any of the Defendants that changes this status quo is preliminarily enjoined,” she concluded, underlining the text for emphasis.
Today’s order and her previous injunction came in the case of Doe v. Trump, a suit filed in August by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders on behalf of trans service members and trans people enrolled in academic military training programs. This was the first of four lawsuits challenging the ban. The Trump administration has appealed her injunction. Last week, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis in Maryland issued an injunction in another suit, brought by six trans military members represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, its Maryland affiliate, and Covington & Burling LLP.
NCLR and GLAD officials praised Kollar-Kotelly’s clarifying order in a joint press release. “Judge Kollar-Kotelly has once again confirmed that there is no legitimate reason to bar transgender people from military service,” said NCLR legal director Shannon Minter. “We are pleased that Judge Kollar-Kotelly confirmed her prior ruling that on January 1, transgender people who can meet the same qualifications as others will be eligible to enlist.”
“January 1 means January 1,” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project director Jennifer Levi. “That’s the date when the military can no longer deny transgender people from enlisting. The court’s earlier order was clear on that point. This latest ruling is an exclamation point, not that any was needed.”