5 in mil­i­tary sue Trump over trans­gen­der ban

Suit cites vi­o­la­tions of 5th Amend­ment; ban not yet in ef­fect.

Austin American-Statesman - - STATESMAN AT THE LEGISLATURE - By Robert Barnes Wash­ing­ton Post

Five ac­tive-duty ser­vice mem­bers sued Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Wed­nes­day over his in­ten­tions to ban trans­gen­der per­son­nel from serv­ing in the mil­i­tary.

“The di­rec­tive to re­in­state a ban on open ser­vice by trans­gen­der peo­ple vi­o­lates both the Equal Pro­tec­tion com­po­nent of the Fifth Amend­ment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amend­ment to the United States Con­sti­tu­tion,” states the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Wash­ing­ton by five anony­mous “Jane Does.”

They are rep­re­sented by the Na­tional Cen­ter for Les­bian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Le­gal Ad­vo­cates & De­fend­ers (GLAD).

Trump an­nounced in a se­ries of tweets July 27 that “the United States Gov­ern­ment will not ac­cept or al­low trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als to serve in any ca­pac­ity in the U.S. Mil­i­tary.”

The mil­i­tary has not is­sued a pol­icy on how that di­rec­tive would be car­ried out. The suit states that “upon in­for­ma­tion and be­lief, the White House turned (Trump’s) de­ci­sion into of­fi­cial guid­ance, ap­proved by the White House coun­sel’s of­fice, to be com­mu­ni­cated to the Depart­ment of De­fense.”

Since the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion lifted the ban on trans­gen­der troops in June 2016, hun­dreds of ser­vice mem­bers have come out and are serv­ing openly. A Rand Corp. study com­mis­sioned by the Pen­tagon last year es­ti­mates that there are about 11,000 trans­gen­der troops in the re­serves and ac­tive­duty mil­i­tary.

All five of the plain­tiffs said they re­lied on the 2016 pol­icy change when they no­ti­fied com­mand­ing of­fi­cers they were trans­gen­der. Be­sides the con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenges, they ask the court to find Trump’s in­ten­tions would be a vi­o­la­tion of the prom­ises gov­ern­ment has made to mem­bers of the mil­i­tary.

“Be­cause they iden­ti­fied them­selves as trans­gen­der in re­liance on de­fen­dants’ ear­lier prom­ise, plain­tiffs have lost the sta­bil­ity and cer­tainty they had in their ca­reers and ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing post-mil­i­tary and re­tire­ment ben­e­fits that de­pend on the length of their ser­vice,” the suit states.

The suit is ex­pected to be the first of sev­eral filed once the ban is of­fi­cially is­sued.

The plain­tiffs are a Coast Guard mem­ber who has writ­ten a prospec­tive let­ter of res­ig­na­tion; an Air Force ac­tive­duty ser­vice mem­ber of nearly 20 years who served twice in Iraq; and three Army sol­diers.

In a news re­lease, one plain­tiff says: “My ex­pe­ri­ence has been pos­i­tive and I am prouder than ever to con­tinue to serve. I am mar­ried and have three chil­dren, and the mil­i­tary has been my life. But now, I’m wor­ried about my fam­ily’s fu­ture.”

JUSTIN GILLILAND / NEW YORK TIMES

Pro­test­ers gather out­side the White House af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced the ban on trans­gen­der mil­i­tary mem­bers in late July. The mil­i­tary has not yet is­sued a pol­icy on how the pres­i­dent’s di­rec­tive will be im­ple­mented.

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