The Trump administration is preparing to move forward with the implementation of its transgender military ban despite a legal dispute with LGBT rights advocates who say a court order remains in place against the policy.
On Friday, the Trump administration signaled its intent to move forward with the transgender military ban in filing submitted by the U.S. Justice Department before a trial court in the D.C. Circuit, one of four courts where litigation against Trump’s policy is proceeding.
Taking note of U.S. District Judge George Russell III of Maryland lifting his nationwide injunction barring enforcement of the ban on Thursday, the Justice Department asserts “there is no longer any impediment to the military’s implementation of the Mattis policy.”
Further, the Justice Department says Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan plans to issue a “directive-type memorandum” that will formally implement the policy “in the near future,” although that memorandum will not take effect until 30 days after its release.
The Trump administration declares victory in the aftermath of a series of legal wins in its defense of the transgender military ban. Heretofore, courts had enjoined the Defense Department from implementing the policy.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stays on two court orders against the ban issued in the Ninth Circuit, a three-judge panel the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Trump administration on the policy and Russell, citing the Supreme Court decision, lifted his own injunction in Maryland.
But the Trump administration’s declaration of intent to move forward with the policy came to the consternation of the legal team representing transgender troops in the D.C. Circuit case, known as Doe v. Trump.
Earlier in the day, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the orders on its decision in favor of the Trump administration ban. The legal team representing transgender plaintiffs — the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders — declared they had 21 days to seek “en banc” review before the full court because the mandate wasn’t yet issued and during that time the underlying injunction remains in effect.
Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, was unequivocal the government was in error by seeking to implement the ban at this time.
“The government is wrong,” Minter said. “The injunction remains in effect until the mandate issues, and that clearly has not happened. The Court of Appeals has gone out of its way to give the plaintiffs an opportunity to seek rehearing en banc before the mandate issues and the injunction is dissolved.”
Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson, referred the Blade to the Justice Department for questions on litigation, but also said the administration considers the ruling in Maryland “as the final stay lifted to proceed with the policy.”
Last week, five transgender service members testified before the House Armed Services Personnel Committee on their commitment to military service and the ability to meet standards and requirements for duty.
Capt. Jennifer Peace, who has served for 15 years in the Army and currently serves as an intelligence officer for Iran in the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified there had never been an issue within the unit she commanded because she was transgender.
“We were out for extended time periods in the theater, in the deserts of California, in the forest of Wisconsin,” Peace said. “There were never any issues that arose to being transgender. Between the time of the initial announcement of open service and the tweets of our commander-in-chief, the fact that I was transgender never came up. It wasn’t something that needed to be discussed.