Retired Military Officers and Surgeons General, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Service Women’s Action Network, NAACP, the Korematsu Center, Military Historians, National Women’s Law Center, 19 States, and Others Go on Record Opposing Trans Military Ban
Washington, D.C.—A wide array of former military leaders, veterans’ and civil rights organizations, women’s groups, military scholars and historians, and states have gone on record opposing President Trump’s ongoing efforts to exclude transgender people from military service. Groups and individuals filed thirteen friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The case was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and was the first lawsuit to challenge the Trump-Pence transgender military ban and secured the first preliminary injunction halting the ban while the case is heard in court.
A friend-of-the-court brief is filed by non-parties to a case who have expertise to offer and a strong interest in the subject matter of the litigation.
“Our nation’s most respected former military leaders are going on record to oppose this destructive and irrational ban. They are telling the court that excluding qualified individuals simply because they are transgender harms military recruitment and retention and contradicts foundational military values of loyalty, duty, respect, integrity and honor,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter.
“The briefs submitted by these experts explain why the transgender military ban weakens our present and future military. These also provide a historical lens, demonstrating that just like the ban on women in combat, and racial segregation of servicemembers, the transgender military ban must be relegated to the dustbin of history,” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi.
Key arguments include:
- Allowing transgender troops to serve strengthens our military;
- The ban on transgender people serving undermines military recruitment and retention goals, which is particularly problematic at a time when service branches are trying to grow their ranks in order to meet demands on national security;
- Military service is a hallmark of equal citizenship and has played a critical role in establishing equality for women, racial minorities, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual people;
- Historically, “military readiness” has been invoked by civilian leaders as a cover for discomfort and discrimination against groups previously excluded from service;
- The transgender military ban rests on the same stereotypes used to discriminate against women.
A compelling brief from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Service Women’s Action Network, NYC Veterans Alliance and others, spotlights military heroes who would have been excluded from service if prior discriminatory regulations had remained in effect:
“Consider where our military would be today if past categorical bans and limits on service had not been lifted. We would likely have seen no Gen. Colin Powell, the first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We would likely have seen no Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, the first female Air Force officer to venture into space as part of the crew of the space shuttle Endeavor. We would likely have seen no Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith, the first openly LGB general in U.S. Army history. And if the Transgender Ban is allowed to stand, we will likely never know what future heroes our country has passed over, including potentially the very plaintiffs in this case.”
Another brief authored by the Truman Center, Minority Veterans of America, and others presents first-person accounts by servicemembers and veterans about how the diverse experiences of servicemembers strengthens the military, including this quote from a Marine veteran:
“The most effective units I saw were those that had people with different perspectives who could think about how to solve a problem in a way you never thought of. When I was in the Middle East I wanted a unit comprised of a variety of people, that way I knew that when a problem occurred, and one always occurred, we would be thinking about how to tackle it from all the angles. All I, and my team cared about, was how do we solve the problem.”
June 30, 2016: The United States Department of Defense (DOD) adopted a policy permitting transgender people to serve in the military based on a nearly two year DOD review determining that there was no valid reason to exclude qualified personnel from military service simply because they are transgender.
July 26, 2017: President Trump tweeted that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
August 9, 2017: NCLR and GLAD, with cooperating counsel from WilmerHale and Foley Hoag LLP, filed Doe v. Trump—the first lawsuit filed to stop the ban, challenging its constitutionality and seeking a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop it from taking effect while the case is heard in court.
August 25, 2017: President Trump issued a memorandum ordering Secretary of Defense James Mattis to submit “a plan for implementing” the ban by March 23, 2018.
October 30, 2017: The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Doe v. Trump plaintiffs had established a likelihood of success on their claim that President Trump’s ban violates equal protection, that plaintiffs would be irreparably harmed without a preliminary injunction to stop the ban, and that the public interest and balance of hardships weighed in favor of granting injunctive relief and temporarily halting the ban while the case is heard by the court.
March 23, 2018: The implementation plan developed by Secretary Mattis (“Implementation Plan”) was released to the public and endorsed by President Trump.
April 20, 2018: Based on the Implementation Plan, the government filed a motion to dissolve the October 30 nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the transgender military ban issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint, and a motion for Summary Judgment.
May 11, 2018: Plaintiffs filed their cross-motion for summary judgment, as well as motions opposing Defendant’s motions to dissolve the injunction and dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint.
August 6, 2018: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Dissolve the Preliminary Injunction
August 27, 2018: Defendants filed a notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals of Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s denial of their motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the transgender military ban.
September 21, 2018: The Defendants-Appellants filed their opening brief in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
October 22, 2018: Plaintiffs-Appellees filed their opposition to Defendants’ appeal, asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to leave in place the preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the transgender military ban.
December 10, 2018: Oral argument is scheduled at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging the Trump-Pence transgender military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9, 2017.