Court blocks Donald Trump’s transgender military ban

Parts of President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military has been blocked.

A federal judge in Washington, DC filed an injunction blocking the order today, ruling that a lawsuit brought by five active soldiers with more than 60 combined years of service was likely to win.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote Monday that transgender members of the military who had sued over the change were likely to win their lawsuit and barred the Trump administration from reversing course.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote: “The Court holds that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their Fifth Amendment claim.

“As a form of government action that classifies people based on their gender identity, and disfavors a class of historically persecuted and politically powerless individuals, the President’s directives are subject to a fairly searching form of scrutiny.”

The judge added: “The effect of the Court’s Order is to revert to the status quo with regard to accession and retention that existed before the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum.”

However, a proposed ban on federal funds being used for gender reassignment surgery in the military will be allowed to proceed.
Trump stirred anger by announcing in July that he would impose a ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.

Reversing a decision under Barack Obama, Trump claimed in a string of tweets that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”.

Sarah Warbelow, the Human Rights Campaign Legal Director, said: “Today’s preliminary injunction is an important step in the ongoing efforts to protect transgender service members from the dangerous and discriminatory policies of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

“Donald Trump’s erratic tweets and half-baked orders disrespect the bravery of the countless transgender people who have fought, and in many cases died, for their country.

“The immediate harm to our national defense and to the thousands of transgender people serving and wishing to serve their country must be stopped — and we are grateful that a federal judge has blocked this administration from discharging any qualified individuals because of their gender identity while these cases continue to make their way through the courts.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said: “The U.S. District Court’s temporary halt of the trans military ban is a major step forward in exposing President Trump’s policy as a hate-fueled attack on some of the bravest Americans who serve and protect our nation.

“Today’s victory reflects what a majority of Americans have been saying: that transgender service members should be thanked and not relegated to second-class citizenship.”

The case was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence speak to the press on August 10, 2017, at Trump’s Bedminster National Golf Club in New Jersey before a security briefing.

The groups previously hit out at the Trump administration for battling to defend the policy in the courts.
Shannon Minter, NCLR’s Legal Director said: “The Trump administration has launched an unprecedented attack on thousands of dedicated service members.

“And today, the Department of Justice turned a blind eye to the devastation caused by this ban to our troops currently serving and to qualified, courageous transgender Americans who wish to enlist. Real people are suffering, and every day that goes by, the damage to service members and their families is more severe.”

Jennifer Levi, Director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project said: “The Department of Justice has done it again.

“They refuse to acknowledge how much damage President Trump’s transgender military ban is doing, or the lives that have been thrown into chaos as a consequence of this reckless policy.

We are hopeful that the Court will see that the law is stacked against the ban and grant emergency relief. There is no time to waste.”

by Nick Duffy and Josh Jackman
Source – PinkNews