As the Trump administration prepares to implement its ban on transgender people in the military, two more lawsuits have been filed challenging it.
OutServe-SLDN and Lambda Legal filed a joint lawsuit today, and the other suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union with the firm of Covington and Burling, seeking to stop the ban from going into effect. The suits came in response to a memo approved Friday by Donald Trump instructing the departments of Defense and Homeland Security on how to carry out the ban, which he announced via Twitter July 26, reversing the Obama administration’s lifting of the ban.
“We promised that we would sue if the president took this action. The law is on our side; justice is on our side,” said Peter Perkowski, legal director for OutServe-SLDN, in a press release. “And we are on the side of every single transgender service member and those who want to serve. The nation’s courts exist to protect the people whom tyrants would otherwise abuse. Trump can’t tweet his way out of this one.”
“This ban not only wrongfully prevents patriotic, talented Americans from serving, it also compromises the safety and security of our country,” added Lambda Legal senior attorney Peter Renn. “Thousands of current service members are transgender, and many have been serving openly, courageously and successfully in the U.S. military for more than a year — not to mention the previous decades when many were forced to serve in silence. Once again attacking a vulnerable population based on bias, political opportunism and demonstrably untrue ‘alternative facts,’ President Trump is denying brave men and women the opportunity to serve our country without any legitimate justification whatsoever.”
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, is on behalf of on behalf of two transgender people who seek to join the military; one current service member, also trans, who seeks appointment as an officer; the Human Rights Campaign; and Gender Justice League, a gender and sexuality civil and human rights organization headquartered in Seattle.
“Dripping with animus, the Ban and the current accessions bar violate the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment and the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment,” the suit states. “They are unsupported by any compelling, important, or even rational justification.
The ACLU suit is on behalf of five transgender service members and the organization’s Maryland affiliate. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland, likewise says the ban violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process. “The lawsuit argues that the ban discriminates based on sex and transgender status and that the ban is based on uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes, moral disapproval, and a bare desire to harm this already vulnerable group,” says an ACLU press release.
“Each and every claim made by the President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense’s own review process. Allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly and providing them with necessary health care does nothing to harm military readiness or unit cohesion,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, in the press release. “Men and women who are transgender with the courage and capacity to serve deserve more from their commander in chief.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders filed a joint suit against the ban earlier this month.