Troops pol­icy

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US court bars Trump from re­vers­ing trans­gen­der troops pol­icy.

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — A fed­eral judge on Mon­day barred Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion from pro­ceed­ing with plans to ex­clude trans­gen­der peo­ple from mil­i­tary ser­vice.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kol­lar-Kotelly ruled that the trans­gen­der ser­vice mem­bers who had sued over Trump’s pol­icy were likely to win their law­suit. She di­rected a re­turn to the sit­u­a­tion that ex­isted be­fore Trump an­nounced his new pol­icy this sum­mer, say­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion had pro­vided no solid ev­i­dence for why a ban should be im­ple­mented.

Trump had or­dered a re­in­state­ment of the long­stand­ing pol­icy that barred trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als from join­ing the mil­i­tary; ser­vice mem­bers who were re­vealed to be trans­gen­der were sub­ject to dis­charge. Un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, that pol­icy was changed last year to al­low trans­gen­der peo­ple to serve openly.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion may ap­peal Kol­lar-Kotelly’s de­ci­sion, but for now, the pro­posed ban re­mains un­en­force­able un­der Kol­lar-Kotelly’s pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion.

“We dis­agree with the court’s rul­ing and are cur­rently eval­u­at­ing the next steps,” said Jus­tice De­part­ment spokesman Lau­ren Ehrsam.

She re­it­er­ated the de­part­ment’s view that the law­suit was pre­ma­ture be­cause the Pen­tagon was still in the process of re­view­ing how the trans­gen­der pol­icy might evolve.

One of the at­tor­neys han­dling the law­suit, Shan­non Min­ter of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Les­bian Rights, said the rul­ing was an enor­mous re­lief to his clients.

“Their lives have been dev­as­tated since Trump first tweeted he was re­in­stat­ing the ban,” Min­ter said. “They are now able to serve on equal terms with ev­ery­one else.”

Trump an­nounced on Twit­ter in July that the gov­ern­ment “will not ac­cept or al­low trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als to serve in any ca­pac­ity in the U.S. Mil­i­tary.” He fol­lowed with an Au­gust memo di­rect­ing the Pen­tagon to ex­tend in­def­i­nitely a ban on trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als join­ing the mil­i­tary, and gave De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis six months to come up with a pol­icy on “how to ad­dress” those who are cur­rently serv­ing.

Un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, the De­part­ment of De­fense had an­nounced in 2016 that ser­vice mem­bers could not be dis­charged solely based on their gen­der iden­tity. Trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als were to be al­lowed to en­list in the mil­i­tary in June 2017, a time­line ini­tially de­layed un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to Jan. 1, 2018.

Min­ter said the new court rul­ing means they will be able to en­list as of that date.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had asked the court to dis­miss the law­suit; Kol­lar-Kotelly re­fused to do so, and Min­ter said it’s pos­si­ble the case will go to trial.

One is­sue not di­rectly ad­dressed in Mon­day’s rul­ing was whether fed­eral funds should be used to pay for sex­ual re­as­sign­ment surg­eries for mem­bers of the mil­i­tary.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought to pro­hibit such pay­ments; Kol­lar-Kotelly said she didn’t have ju­ris­dic­tion to rule on the is­sue be­cause none of the plain­tiffs in the case es­tab­lished a like­li­hood of be­ing im­pacted by that pro­hi­bi­tion.

The law­suit was filed in Au­gust by the Na­tional Cen­ter for Les­bian Rights and GLBTQ Le­gal Ad­vo­cates & De­fend­ers (GLAD) on be­half of eight trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing ser­vice mem­bers in the Air Force, Coast Guard and the Army, as well as stu­dents at the U.S. Naval Academy and in the ROTC pro­gram at the Univer­sity of New Haven.

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