On Wednesday, two LGBTQ rights groups filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump on behalf of five transgender service members. The lawsuit alleges that Trump’s announced ban on transgender service members violates their Fifth Amendment rights.
The unnamed service members, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, argued that the ban would violate the due process clause within the Fifth Amendment by arbitrarily blanket banning transgender members without rational cause. The organizations said the five service members have nearly 60 years of service between them, according to The Hill.
In July, Trump tweeted a surprise announcement that transgender military members would be banned due to apparent concerns about paying for sex reassignment surgeries and transition-related expenses.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he said, adding that he had made the decision after discussions with “generals and military experts.”
The next day, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released a statement saying that President Trump had not actually issued an order to the military, according to the New York Times. Until such an order was officially delivered, he said, the military would continue to allow transgender members to serve, uninterrupted.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” he said.
Trump had reportedly made the move after Republican officials raised concerns about shouldering the costs. However, according toPolitico, a senior House Republican aide discussing Trump’s ban in an email said “someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire.”
On Wednesday, The Palm Center, a think tank that advocates for LGBT members in the military, estimated it would cost $960 million to replace the 12,800 transgender members currently serving. The Rand Corporation estimated that shutting down payments for transgender members’ medical services would save $8.4 million per year. The Military Health System has an annual budget of $50 billion, according to the Department of Defense.
President Barack Obama first lifted the ban in mid-2016, allowing for a one-year review of the policy. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in June that he needed at least another month to make a decision on whether to allow the new policy to remain in place, according to CNN.
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