NCLR, GLAD, and Equality California Slam the Government’s Response in Stockman v. Trump
NCLR, GLAD, and Equality California Slam the Government's Response in Stockman v. Trump, as DOJ Continues to Ignore the Serious Harms Trump's Transgender Military Ban Is Inflicting on Transgender Americans and Our Nation's Service Members
Los Angeles, CA - October 23, 2017 – Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion to dismiss and a motion opposing emergency relief in Stockman v. Trump, the transgender military ban suit filed on behalf of Equality California (EQCA) members and seven individual plaintiffs being harmed by the ban. EQCA along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), co-counsel in the case and the LGBT legal organizations leading the fight against the ban, slammed the government's response for ignoring the harms this dangerous policy is inflicting on our nation's service members and transgender individuals who want to enlist but can't.
"The government's response is misguided, misinformed and just plain wrong," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. "Transgender people don't deserve to be told that what they are going through doesn't matter or isn't real. We should be honoring our troops. This ban and today's response are a slap in the face."
"The Trump administration has launched an unprecedented attack on thousands of dedicated service members," said Shannon Minter, NCLR's Legal Director. "And today, the Department of Justice turned a blind eye to the devastation caused by this ban to our troops currently serving and to qualified, courageous transgender Americans who wish to enlist. Real people are suffering, and every day that goes by, the damage to service members and their families is more severe."
"The Department of Justice has done it again," said Jennifer Levi, Director of GLAD's Transgender Rights Project. "They refuse to acknowledge how much damage President Trump's transgender military ban is doing, or the lives that have been thrown into chaos as a consequence of this reckless policy. We are hopeful that the Court will see that the law is stacked against the ban and grant emergency relief. There is no time to waste."
NCLR and GLAD strongly oppose arguments from the Trump administration that no harm has yet occurred because of the Interim Guidance put in place regarding the ban. The Trump Administration's Interim Guidance on the ban fails to address the significant harms already put in motion:
- Nothing in the Interim Guidance prevents the reversal of the current policy permitting open service from taking effect on March 23, 2018.
- Nothing in the Interim Guidance allows qualified transgender Americans to join the military or enroll in service academies or ROTC programs.
- Nothing in the Interim Guidance changes the fact that this Administration has issued a flurry of conflicting instructions about healthcare for transgender troops that are causing ongoing confusion and delayed care.
- Nothing shields transgender service members from adverse treatment as a new sub-class of individuals, deemed unfit for reasons completely unrelated to their qualifications, capabilities, or past performance.
Former top military leaders who were instrumental in the year-long process of assessing and adopting a policy of open service for transgender service members have lent their voices in legal cases against the ban. These include retired Admiral and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, former Secretary of the Navy Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr., and former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, who have expressed their strong concern about the negative effects of Trump's ban on military readiness, national security, and morale.
In addition to Equality California, plaintiffs in Stockman v. Trump, filed September 5, 2017, include three unnamed and four named plaintiffs. The named plaintiffs include Nicolas Talbott from Lisbon, Ohio, a 23-year old who wants to enlist but is unable to do so because of the ban, and Aiden Stockman from Yucca Valley, California, a 20-year old who wants to join the Air Force and took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test in high school. Aiden works at a grocery store that is shutting down and sees the Air Force as a promising career as well as a way to serve his country, but is unable to move forward because of the ban. Tamasyn Reeves, 29, started the process to enlist in the military but has been unable to serve because of the ban. Jaquice Tate, 27, is an active-duty member of the Army, serving as a Sergeant, E-5 Rank. Unnamed plaintiffs who do not wish to disclose their names include John Doe 1, a 28-year old currently serving as a Non-Commissioned Officer E-5 Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. John Doe 2 is a 20-year old currently serving as an E-4 Specialist (SPC) Operator-Maintainer in the Army. Jane Doe is currently serving as a Staff Sergeant, E-5 Rank, in the Air Force, a Risk Management Framework Program Manager at a strategically important overseas base.
Plaintiffs will file a response to today's government motions on November 6, and a hearing in the case is scheduled for November 20 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. NCLR, GLAD, and Equality California will continue to fight this ban in court until all transgender service members and transgender individuals who want to enlist are able to do so.
Equality California is the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.EQCA.org
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. www.GLAD.org
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org