Seattle, WA, January 25, 2018 – Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN today asked a federal district court to permanently block enforcement of the Trump Administration’s plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services. The motion for summary judgment filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington follows four U.S. district court rulings and two federal appellate court rulings that granted and preserved preliminary injunctions against enforcement of the ban. It is the first such motion in any of the cases challenging the military ban that was developed in response to President Trump’s July 26, 2017 tweets.
“Without a court ruling, the possibility of being shoved back into the closet hangs over my head and every transgender service member’s head every day,” said plaintiff Megan Winters, a 29-year-old woman and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. “It is impossible to overstate how damaging that uncertainty is to morale and military readiness.”
“Every single federal court to look at President Trump’s policy has already found that it reeks of undisguised and unlawful discrimination against qualified transgender people willing and able to serve our country, and it’s time to put the nail in the coffin for that policy,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said. “The facts are in and the court has what it needs to finally return this bigoted policy back to the dustbin of history, where it has always belonged. Every day that this clearly illegal ban lingers perpetuates harm to patriotic Americans who wish only to serve the country they love.”
Today’s motion is the latest step in the lawsuit, brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN and joined by the state of Washington, challenging the ban. 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.
“The policy excluding transgender people from serving openly in the armed forced has never had a rational justification, still doesn’t and never will,” OutServe-SLDN Legal Director Peter Perkowski said. “There is no need for a trial to establish that. This motion asks the Court once and for all to put a permanent top to a policy so clearly damaging to this nation’s military readiness.”
“It is clear that the military, transgender service members, and the American public are ready to move beyond this president’s cruel and unconstitutional ban on trans troops as quickly as possible,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “Following blow after blow to this order in federal courts, this motion for summary judgment has the potential to bring us one step closer to the speedy resolution that our brave service members deserve. Transgender people are currently enlisting and serving their country with distinction and it’s past time the White House and U.S. Department of Justice honors their service.”
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.
The lawsuit is Karnoski v. Trump. Read the Motion for Summary Judgment here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/wa_karnoski_20180125_motion-for-summary-judgment. Read more about the case here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/karnoski-v-trump
The Lambda Legal attorneys working on the case are: Peter Renn, Camilla B. Taylor, Tara Borelli, Natalie Nardecchia, Sasha Buchert, Kara Ingelhart, and Carl Charles. They are joined by co-counsel Peter Perkowski of OutServe-SLDN. Also on the legal team are pro-bono co-counsel at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Newman Du Wors LLP.