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Supreme Court Allows Challenges to Trump’s Transgender Military Ban to Continue in Lower Courts

GLAD’s Jennifer Levi said: The Trump administration’s cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review.

NCLR’s Shannon Minter said: Multiple federal courts have recognized that excluding qualified individuals simply because they are transgender is contrary to basic constitutional principles of equality and fairness.

Washington, D.C.—The Supreme Court today denied the Trump administration’s request that it hear legal challenges to Trump’s transgender military ban this term, allowing the cases to proceed in the lower courts. In a separate order, the Court allowed the ban to go into effect temporarily while the cases against it proceed.

Plaintiffs challenging the ban include transgender men and women serving in all branches of the military, including some who have completed multiple deployments overseas. Plaintiffs also include service academy and ROTC members, as well as individuals seeking to enlist. Equality California is an organizational plaintiff challenging the ban on behalf of its members. Attorneys from GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) represent plaintiffs in two cases challenging the ban, Doe v. Trump and Stockman v. Trump.

“In declining to hear these cases, the Supreme Court saw through the administration’s contrived efforts to gin up a national crisis.” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. “Unfortunately, the Court’s stay of the lower courts’ preliminary orders means that courageous transgender service members will face discharges while challenges to the ban go forward. The Trump administration’s cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review.”

“Our country owes a debt of gratitude to the thousands of transgender people serving in our armed forces,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Multiple federal courts have recognized that excluding qualified individuals simply because they are transgender is contrary to basic constitutional principles of equality and fairness. We are confident the courts will ultimately protect the integrity of our nation’s military and hold that transgender service members must be evaluated based on the same standards applied to all others, not barred from service based on a characteristic that has no relevance to their fitness to serve.”

President Trump first announced that he was banning military service by transgender people in July 2017, without consultation with military leadership. Before Trump ordered the ban, transgender people were permitted to serve under a policy that has now been in place for more than two and a half years.

“Thousands of brave transgender troops around the world are currently serving our nation with honor,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director at Equality California, which brought Stockman v. Trump on behalf of its members. “Their patriotism and sacrifice should be celebrated, not cruelly dismissed by a president who clearly cares more about delivering on campaign promises than he does about our national security.”

“The Trump Administration’s glaring efforts to deny protections to patriotic Americans seeking to serve our great nation in uniform are just plain wrong,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will continue to fight to protect the rights of all Americans despite this President’s disregard for equality and the rule of law. This is 2019, not 1920.”

NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging the Trump transgender military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9, 2017.

For more information, go to NCLR and GLAD’s website outlining the history and status of the Trump-Pence transgender military ban https://notransmilitaryban.org/.

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Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientationwww.GLAD.org

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) was the first national LGBTQ legal organization founded by women and brings a fierce, longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and our community’s most vulnerable. Since 1977, NCLR has been at the forefront of advancing the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people and their families through impact litigation, public policy, and public education. Decades ago, NCLR launched the first LGBTQ Immigration Project, Transgender Rights Project, Youth Project, Elder Law Project, and began working to end conversion therapy through what is now the Born Perfect campaign. www.nclrights.org   

Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.EQCA.org