Suits filed over military transgender ban
- Author: Rogelio Becker Aug 30, 2017,
Aug 30, 2017, 1:40
The individual plaintiffs, all of whom are transgender, include: Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old Seattle man who now works as a social worker and wishes to become an officer doing social work for the military; Staff Sergeant Cathrine ("Katie") Schmid, a 33-year-old woman and 12-year member of the U.S. Army now serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, who has applied to become an Army Warrant Officer; and Drew Layne, a high-school student from Corpus Christi, Texas, who is about to turn 17 and, with parental support, wants to join the Air Force.
What the ACLU says: "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", Josh Block, an ACLU senior staff attorney, said in a statement. "It is an unconscionable and unconstitutional breach of trust for the president to single out fearless transgender service members and able recruits for discrimination". After the legalization of so-called same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court, however, LGBT activists have been tirelessly beating the transgender drum, making it the new pet issue.
"The Trump organization has given no confirmation that this declaration depended on an investigation of the genuine cost and interruption professedly caused by permitting men and ladies who are transgender to serve transparently", ACLU attorneys said.
The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under former President Barack Obama, which was still under final review that would allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military.
A White House official who briefed reporters about the memo declined to specify whether transgender service men and women who are now active in the military could continue to serve based on such criteria.
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the ACLU of Maryland and six transgender individuals who are current members of the armed forces, argues that the ban is discriminatory and violates equal protection and due process laws.
Trump as well as Defense Secretary James Mattis, who's charged with implementation of the new transgender military ban, are named defendants in both the lawsuits.
Between 4,000 and 10,000 USA active-duty and reserve service members are believed to be transgender.
According to Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe, the suit is based on the Constitutional guarantees of equal protection, due process and free speech.
Trump signed a directive on August 25 formally banning the recruitment of trans servicemen, alleging trans troops are a disruption to the military and burden the government with unnecessary medical expenses.
The second case was filed in Seattle by Lambda Legal, a group of lawyers fighting for gay rights, and OutServe-SLDN, which advocates for equality in the military.
"The secretaries have no discretion to rewrite policy or create blanket exemptions for classes of service members", the professors wrote in a memo put out by the Palm Center.