Democrats Ask DOD to Rescind Transgender Military Service Ban

A group of Democratic House members wants the military to nix its ban on service members who are openly transgender, in light of the Supreme Court’s Bostock v. Clayton County ruling.

The June 15 opinion, written by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, made it illegal to fire lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people over their sexual orientations or gender identities by extending to them protections afforded by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In response, more than 110 legislators led by Rep. Suzan K. DelBene (D-Wash.) sent a July 8 letter to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr asking the Pentagon to immediately change its policies to end the ban.

“The Bostock decision unambiguously clarified that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes protections for LGBTQ workers,” the letter stated. “Justice Gorsuch wrote, ‘The statute’s message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” 

The lawmakers also asked the Justice Department “to negotiate the end to litigations challenging the ban” so no additional harm is done to transgender U.S. troops. 

The letter notes that four current lawsuits exist in opposition to the service ban, alleging that it goes against the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.

“Prolonging the litigation in the face of almost certain defeat, and thereby prolonging the existing policy, will continue to inflict serious harm on transgender people seeking to serve our country and on those already serving while living in the shadows, enduring the dignitary harm of being told they’re a burden,” the letter stated.

The Supreme Court green-lit the service ban’s implementation in a 5-4 decision in January 2019 while lawsuits against the order were underway.

The Pentagon started enforcing the updated policy in April 2019. The policy grandfathered in certain individuals and allowed people looking to join the military once it was in effect to pursue waivers. However, only one waiver has been granted so far.