AG Healey Leads Multi State Court Brief Opposing Ban on Trans Service Members

healeyMassachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey; Photo: TRT Archives

BOSTONAttorney General Maura Healey today led a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief strongly opposing the Trump Administration’s plan to ban open military service by transgender individuals.

The amicus brief, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that banning transgender individuals serving in the military is unconstitutional, against the interest of national defense, and harmful to the transgender community at large. The case, Doe v. Trump, was brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“Our military should be open to every brave American who volunteers to serve,” said AG Healey. “Together with my colleagues, I am filing this brief today to ensure inclusion and opportunity for everyone who puts on a uniform.”

The attorneys general argue in their brief that transgender individuals volunteer to serve in the armed forces at approximately twice the rate of adults in the general population, and that approximately 150,000 veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserves identify as transgender.

In the brief, the attorneys general state that “there is no evidence that [allowing transgender individuals to serve openly] has disrupted military readiness, operational effectiveness, or morale. To the contrary, anecdotal accounts indicate that the positive impacts of inclusion were beginning to manifest, as capable and well-qualified individuals who were already serving finally were able to do so authentically.”

Additionally, the attorneys general strongly support the rights of transgender people to live with dignity, to be free from discrimination, and to participate fully and equally in all aspects of civic life, and argue that these interests are all best served by allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Joining AG Healey in the amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania,Vermont, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

Today’s brief follows many steps taken by AG Healey to protect the civil rights of transgender individuals.

Earlier this year, AG Healey stood with transgender families, LGBTQ advocates, and state leaders to speak out against the Trump Administration’s decision to reverse the federal government’s position on protections for transgender students in our schools. Laws in Massachusetts that have been in place for more than three years to protect transgender students, as well as guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on creating a safe and supportive school environment for everyone, were also highlighted.

AG Healey also worked closely with advocates to garner support for the transgender public accommodations law that passed last year. In October 2015, AG Healey testified in support of the legislation and submitted a letter  advocating for its passage. Dozens of Massachusetts businesses also joined the AG’s Office in a letter urging the Legislature to take a favorable vote on legislation.

In March 2016, the AG’s Office launched the #EveryoneWelcome social media campaign, featuring short video messages from celebrity allies of the transgender community and families from across the state. Freedom for All Americans recently launched the #EveryoneWelcome campaign nationally, encouraging people to record a video message of their own to show support.

The amicus brief was led by Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Parr of AG Healey’s Administrative Law Division, Assistant Attorney General Sara Colb of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, and Genevieve Nadeau, Chief of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division.

[From a News Release]

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