New White House Transgender Ban Implementation Plan Solves Nothing

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March 23, 2018
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Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN clients who are currently serving and wish to enlist

The White House today released the proposed plan to implement the discriminatory transgender military ban that President Trump called for in a series of tweets in July.

The ban was to go into effect today, March 23, based on the August 25, 2017 memorandum that followed the tweets, but has been stopped by preliminary injunctions won by Lambda Legal and others.

On Tuesday, March 27, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN will be in court asking a federal judge to make the injunction permanent.

Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn issued the following statement about the implementation plan:

“The “plan” unveiled today is nothing more than a transparent ruse cobbled together with spittle and duct tape designed solely to try to mask discrimination. A plan to implement an unconstitutional decree is an unconstitutional plan.

“In 2016, after careful and deliberate study, the Pentagon determined that the prohibition on open service by transgender people lacked any foundation and lifted the ban. Since then, transgender troops had been serving openly and successfully -- until President Trump unleashed his incendiary barrage of uninformed tweets.

“We, along with our sibling organizations, moved quickly to block implementation of the plan, and every single federal court to look at this policy – six to date – has found that it reeks of undisguised and unlawful discrimination against qualified transgender people willing and able to serve our country, and blocked its implementation. That block remains in effect, notwithstanding the release of the plan today.”

In September, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN brought a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging the ban, later joined by the state of Washington. In December, the federal district court issued an injunction barring the ban from being enforced during the litigation and requiring the military to honor 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.

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. And, 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.