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White House Sued By ACLU Over Transgender Soldiers Ban
President Donald Trump has been sued again over his plan to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military, setting the stage for another bruising court battle over a directive from the White House.
The lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed Monday in federal court in Maryland, alleges Trump’s order violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. An Aug. 25 White House memo gave Defense Secretary James Mattis six months to return to the previous policy barring transgender soldiers and immediately barred transgender-related expenses.
Trump has inflamed U.S. cultural wars since his election victory, pushing back on his predecessor’s liberal polices and pleasing his conservative base. His executive orders have targeted immigration, while his Justice Department started a review of affirmative action in colleges and joined a suit to halt the spread of gay rights in the workplace. The president’s policy proposals have also hinted at fights over abortion and doctor-assisted suicide.
The ACLU is the same national organization that helped stall Trump’s proposed ban against travelers from several Muslim countries, a narrowed version of which took effect in June pending a U.S. Supreme Court hearing in October.
The Department of Defense concluded in 2016 that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender men and women from serving openly, subject to the same fitness requirements as other Americans, the ACLU said. New transgender recruits were due to be permitted to enlist on July 1, it said.
Thousands of transgender Americans now serve in the armed forces, putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the rights and freedoms in the U.S., the ACLU said in the complaint.
“Some perform critical roles in intelligence analysis, disaster relief, medical care, and pre-deployment training at bases in the United States,” the organization said. “Others have deployed to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The plaintiffs in the suit include Petty Officer Brock Stone, 34, who has served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years, including a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, and Staff Sergeant Kate Cole, 27, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost 10 years, including a year in Afghanistan where she served as a team leader and designated marksman.
Five members of the armed forces earlier this month sued Trump and his top military brass seeking to halt the reversal of the transgender policy put in place by the Obama administration. The new suit by the ACLU adds significant resources to the fight as the organization has seen its membership swell since Trump’s election.
The service members in the earlier case, who are suing anonymously, say they disclosed their gender orientation relying on the existing policy that permits them to serve openly.
Treatment of transgender people has become a flash point as social conservatives lead fights in some states to require students and sometimes adults to use schools and public restrooms corresponding to their gender at birth.
In a three-part Tweet, Trump outlined his reasoning for reversing the Obama transgender policy. “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on the decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
The ACLU included screen shots of the tweets in the complaint, saying they were were a “purely political” attempt to accommodate the most conservative legislators who support the president.
“The Trump administration has provided no evidence that this pronouncement wasbased on any analysis of the actual cost and disruption allegedly caused by allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly,” according to the complaint.
The Military Times pointed out that the cost of providing Viagra and sexual dysfunction medications to members of the armed forces is 10 times the costs associated with health-care services for transgender troops.
©2017 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.
Hackers could have breached US bioterrorism defenses for years, records show. We'll never know if they did
The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.
The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.
The State Department doesn't really care if its human rights training for partner security forces is working or not
By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?
Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.
A Kansas VA hospital police supervisor reported 'dangerous' deficiencies among his officers. Now he says he faced retaliation
The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.
And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.
A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.