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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 22, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 51
4th Circuit OKs Trans troops
Section One
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4th Circuit OKs Trans troops

Turns down Trump bid to stop enlistments

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected an attempt by the Trump administration to prevent enlistment of Transgender service members.

In a short, two-paragraph order issued December 21, a three-judge panel of the appellate court upheld a lower court stay on Trump's executive order barring Trans folks from enlisting in the military. Enlistments can go forward pending final litigation in the case, the judges said.

That means the Pentagon will begin accepting Trans enlistees starting January 1.

US District Judge Marvin Garbis ruled on November 21 that the Trump ban probably violates the equal protection rights of Transgender people, and that barring them from military service pending trial would harm them.

Garbis' ruling followed a similar one on October 30 by another federal judge in Washington, DC. A third judge in Seattle also ruled against the administration on December 11.

In an August memorandum, Trump gave the military until March 2018 to revert to the pre-Obama policy prohibiting openly Transgender people from joining the military. The memo also barred the use of government funds for sex-reassignment surgery for active-duty military personnel.

The Obama administration had set a deadline of July 1, 2017, to begin accepting Transgender recruits. But Trump's Defense Secretary, James Mattis, postponed that date to January 1, 2018. Trump's executive order then postponed that date indefinitely.

Joshua Block, an ACLU attorney who represents the Transgender plaintiffs in the Maryland case, said he was happy the appeals court saw through the government's 'smokescreen' and refused to delay enlistment any further.

The Justice Department, which argued for the ban in court, was not happy, however.

'We disagree with the court's ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps,' Justice Department spokesperson Lauren Ehrsam said in a statement.

The administration could appeal the 4th Circuit decision to the US Supreme Court.

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