Lawsuit Claims 2 Airmen Were Discharged After Testing Positive For HIV

news
From right, a U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle aircraft assigned to the 131st Fighter Squadron, 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard breaks away from an F-22 Raptor aircraft assigned to the 154th Wing as the two aircraft line up for landing at Royal Malaysian Air Force base Butterworth, Malaysia, June 16, 2014, during Cope Taufan 2014
U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson

The Trump administration was accused in a federal lawsuit of violating the constitutional rights of two U.S. Air Force members by firing them after they tested positive for HIV.


A staff sergeant and a senior airman who received discharge notifications just before Thanksgiving had their appeals denied despite compliance with fitness assessments and medical treatment, as well as support from their commanding officers, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Alexandria, Va. They were diagnosed last year during regular screenings and are asymptomatic as a result of ongoing treatment, according to the complaint.

“These decisions should be based on science, not stigma,” their lawyer, Scott Schoettes, said in a statement. “There’s not a job in the world a person living with HIV cannot safely perform, including the job of soldier.”

The complaint is the latest challenge to Trump administration policies affecting the LGBT community, including a plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the military.

HIV-positive Americans have long been barred from enlisting in the military. Service members who contract the virus that causes AIDS have generally been allowed to continue serving, though not overseas. In February, the military rolled out a readiness policy called “Deploy or Get Out!” It was amended in July, exempting HIV-positive service members. The lawsuit, which names Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, claims the Air Force is violating that exemption policy.

Defense Department spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said she couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

“For years, these policies have restricted the opportunities of service members with HIV,” the LGBT-rights group Lambda Legal, which is representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “Now these same deployment restrictions are being used to justify” discharging service members based entirely on their HIV status, the group said.

The plaintiffs, both of whom have been stationed overseas, enlisted in 2011 and 2012, according to the complaint. They claim a violation of their constitutional right to equal protection. They are using pseudonyms to protect their medical privacy, according to the statement.

———

©2018 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

WATCH NEXT:

A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.

It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.

Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.

Read More Show Less

No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.

Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.

"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.

Read More Show Less
A projectile is fired during North Korea's missile tests in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 28, 2019. (KCNA via Reuters)

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.

The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.

Read More Show Less

Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.

In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.

"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.

Read More Show Less
Erik Prince arrives for the New York Young Republican Club Gala at The Yale Club of New York City in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.

Read More Show Less