SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued the following statement after the United States Supreme Court lifted the nationwide injunction halting President Trump’s ban of transgender Americans serving in the military. The state of California, Equality California, and transgender individuals challenged the ban and successfully secured the court injunction in the case Stockman v. Trump. As a result of today’s decision, transgender individuals who wish to serve in the military will be unprotected from the Trump Administration’s discriminatory policies while this litigation continues. The case was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to defend the rights of transgender individuals seeking to join, or currently serving in, the U.S. military.
“The Trump Administration’s glaring efforts to deny protections to patriotic Americans seeking to serve our great nation in uniform are just plain wrong,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will continue to fight to protect the rights of all Americans despite this President’s disregard for equality and the rule of law. This is 2019, not 1920.”
"Thousands of brave transgender troops around the world are currently serving our nation with honor," said Rick Zbur, Executive Director at Equality California. "Their patriotism and sacrifice should be celebrated, not cruelly dismissed by a president who clearly cares more about delivering on campaign promises than he does about our national security."
In requesting to have this issue heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Trump Administration bypassed the traditional appellate process in three cases challenging the transgender military ban, none of which had received rulings before their respective courts of appeals: Stockman v. Trump, Doe v. Trump, and Karnoski v. Trump. Today, the Trump Administration’s request to have these cases heard immediately before the U.S. Supreme Court was denied. However, the lifting of the injunction will allow the Trump Administration's discriminatory policy to be implemented as litigation moves forward in the court of appeals.
In September 2018, a federal district court denied the Trump Administration’s attempt to dissolve a nationwide injunction obtained by Attorney General Becerra to protect transgender Americans serving in the military. At the time this injunction was granted, three federal district courts had already preliminarily enjoined enforcement of President Trump’s ban on military service by transgender individuals in lawsuits in Maryland, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California allowed California to intervene as a co-plaintiff in Stockman v. Trump on November 16, 2017.
Prior to that, less than a week after President Trump’s July 2017 announcement via Twitter that he would reverse existing Department of Defense policies that allowed transgender individuals to serve openly in the military, Attorney General Becerra took action. Along with 18 fellow attorneys general, Attorney General Becerra sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to add language to the federal National Defense Authorization Act to make clear that it is illegal to discriminate against transgender persons who currently serve in or wish to join the U.S. military.
Attorney General Becerra has also filed several friend-of-the-court briefs supporting LGBTQ service members and veterans. In addition to filing amicus briefs in Stone v. Trump and Doe v. Trump in October 2017, Attorney General Becerra joined an amicus brief in Fulcher v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs to defend transgender veterans’ rights to health care coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs for medically necessary care, including gender affirming surgery.