NCLR explains Supreme Court decision on transgender troops

Nevada Army National Guard Sgt. Sam Hunt, an electrician with G Company, 2/238th General Support Aviation Battalion poses for a photo on the flight line at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Stead, Nev., May 12, 2017. Hunt is the first openly transgender soldiers of the Nevada National Guard.


This morning, the Supreme Court issued its first rulings in our challenges to the transgender military ban. The Court denied the Trump administration’s request to leapfrog the normal judicial process and hear the cases now. But it also lifted three of the four preliminary court orders preventing Trump from enforcing the ban while the cases continue in the lower courts.

While this is a rapidly evolving situation, here’s the immediate takeaway:

The Court will not hear the cases this term, which is good news. We don’t want the Court to rule on this important issue prematurely, before we have had a chance to build a strong record in the lower courts and present evidence showing that the ban is based on bias, not facts.

For now, the transgender military ban should remain blocked. The Court ruled only on three of the four injunctions in place, but until the government takes action to overturn the fourth injunction, the ban cannot yet be enforced.

Multiple federal courts have recognized that excluding qualified individuals simply because they are transgender is contrary to basic constitutional principles of equality and fairness. I am confident the courts will ultimately protect the integrity of our nation’s military and hold that transgender service members must be evaluated based on the same standards applied to all others, not barred from service based on a characteristic that has no relevance to their fitness to serve.

As a practical matter, of course, the Court’s apparent willingness to greenlight the ban while the cases proceed is a stinging loss for transgender people currently in the military because it strengthens the government’s position that it may be permitted to exclude people from serving. It also creates confusion.

But as we’ve said since we first sued Trump, this case is not just about transgender servicemembers. It’s part of a larger pattern of policies by Trump to deny basic rights to any LGBTQ person in any context, with implications far beyond the armed forces. The military is one of the largest employers in the nation. This ban is about employment discrimination, and as such it could have a ripple effect in every area of life, from immigration to family law to employment and many others.

We will continue to fight, and I will keep you posted as our cases are heard in the lower courts. This is a setback, but a temporary one, and we will not stop fighting until we defeat this harmful and demeaning ban.

Thank you for all you do to support NCLR and the LGBTQ community.

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