Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Key National LGBTQ Military Organizations Respond to Trump’s State of the Union Address

Yesterday, President Trump delivered a State of the Union Address in which he failed to recognize the more than 15,000 transgender individuals currently serving in our nation’s armed forces. Several of those transgender service members were in the room with him, as honored guests of many Members of Congress. The Trump-Pence Administration is currently fighting to institute a ban which would prevent transgender individuals from being able to openly serve in our nation’s armed services. The President also alluded to his Administration's plans to stopping the spread of HIV throughout the nation.

OutServe-SLDN, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), and SPARTA, the nation’s three key advocacy and support organizations for our LGBTQ military, veteran, and military family communities, issued the following responses:

"For the past two-and-a-half years, thousands of qualified, transgender individuals have been serving openly and our nation’s military services are better not in spite of their authentic service, but because of it," said OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Andy Blevins. "The Trump-Pence Administration’s indefensible desire to institute their wanting and discriminatory practices is disappointing -- our siblings-in-arms deserve better. We look forward to continuing our representation of these proud and selfless patriots and to ensuring that baseless and discriminatory rationalizations not be allowed to define military policy."

"Stopping the spread of HIV is a worthy and achievable goal, but it requires more than just words. It requires a true commitment to the humanity of people living with HIV and those at risk for contracting it," said OutServe-SLDN Legal & Policy Director Peter Perkowski. "We have not seen that commitment from the Trump-Pence Administration. Service members, veterans, and their families instead have faced policies that have placed them more at risk: involuntary discharges based on HIV status, restrictions on access to PrEP, and regulations that criminalize their status and behavior, all of which interfere with health access and run contrary to ending the epidemic. If the Trump-Pence Administration were truly committed to the health and lives of people living with and at risk for HIV, it would entirely revamp DoD and VA policies related to HIV, in addition re re-committing to federal dollars to HIV prevention and treatment."

“Right now, thousands of highly trained, patriotic transgender Americans are bravely and honorably serving our nation around the world in every branch of the military,” said American Military Partner Association (AMPA) President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “The shameful steps Donald Trump and Mike Pence have undertaken in order to erase them and ban them from military service are truly unconscionable. Like the far majority of Americans, we believe any qualified American should be able to serve, and AMPA is proud to be an organizational plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s trans military ban in court.”

“Given the tremendous capability trans service members have shown since the implementation of open service, and the overwhelming medical and scientific evidence that shows no reasons why transgender people should be unable to serve, we remain steadfast that transgender people will continue to contribute to our military long into the future,” said SPARTA Communications Director Bryan Bree Fram.

OutServe-SLDN and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit, Karnoski v. Trump, in August 2017, on behalf of nine individual plaintiffs and three organizational plaintiffs – the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), and the Seattle-based Gender Justice League. The State of Washington later joined the lawsuit. In addition to Karnoski v. Trump, Stockman v. Trump, Doe v. Trump, and Stone v. Trump, filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) respectively, are also challenging the proposed ban.

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