Two more lawsuits

On Monday, two more lawsuits were filed against the Trump administration challenging the ban on military service by transgender people.

The ACLU of Maryland and Covington & Burling LLP filed suit on behalf of 6 current service members, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, Senior Airman John Doe, Airman First Class Seven Ero George, Petty Officer First Class Teagan Gilbert, Staff Sergeant Kate Cole and Technical Sergeant Tommie Parker. The filing was at the US District Court for the District of Maryland.

Each and every claim made by President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense’s own review process. 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.

Men and women who are transgender with the courage and capacity to serve deserve more from their commander-in-chief.

--Josh Block, ACLU

At the culmination of a thorough process, the Department of Defense concluded in 2016 that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender individuals from openly serving their country, subject to the same fitness requirements as other service members. This review process carefully considered and rejected the notion that medical costs, military readiness, or other factors presented any reason to discriminate against transgender service members, many of whom had already been serving with honor in silence for years.

For example, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone has served in the U.S. Navy for 9 years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. He has received extensive and costly training and is skilled in his field. He has devoted and risked his life for the United States and is seeking nothing more than the ability to continue to do so on the same terms as his fellow officers.

Staff Sergeant Cole has served in the U.S. Army for almost 10 years, including a one-year deployment to Afghanistan where she served as a team leader and designated marksman.\

Senior Airman Doe has served for approximately six years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, where he was awarded “Airman of the Year” for his flight and hopes to serve in the armed forces for his entire career.

Airman First Class George is a member of the Air National Guard. He is training as a nurse and intends to pursue a commission in the U.S. Army.

Petty Officer First Class Gilbert has served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years, including a one-year deployment to Afghanistan, and currently serves as an Information Technology specialist.

Technical Sergeant Parker served in the Marine Corps for four years and has served in the Air National Guard for 16 years, currently as a fuel technician.

Meanwhile the Seattle-based Gender Justice League joined a suit in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The suit asks the court to issue a judgement declaring the ban unconstitutional, and to enjoin Trump and the military from enforcing the ban. One of the plaintiffs is Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old trans man who lives and works in Seattle as a mental health clinician. After his cousin was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2009, he realized that military service is “a personal calling for him,” according to the lawsuit’s complaint.

Another is Staff Sergeant Cathrine Schmid, a 33-year-old trans woman who lives in Lakewood and is currently stationed as a Brigade Land and Ammunition Manager at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. According to the compliant, she “has always been a patriotic American with a desire to serve,” and has been held back from promotion because of Trump’s order.

A third plaintiff, identified only by the initials DL, is a trans male high school student in Corpus Christi, Texas, who wants to serve in the Air Force as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape trainer.

Dripping with animus, the Ban and the current accessions bar violate the equal process and due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment and the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment by Lambda Legal and OutServe SLDN, an organization that supports LGBT soldiers and vets. They are unsupported by any compelling, important, or even rational justification.

--The complaint

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