Karnoski v. Trump
Lambda Legal and the Modern Military Association of America (formerly known as OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partners Association) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender individuals. Represented in the lawsuit: six currently serving members of the armed services; two who seek to enlist; the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization; Gender Justice League, a gender and sexuality civil and human rights organization, headquartered in Seattle; and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA).
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The individual plaintiffs, all of whom are transgender, include:
- Staff Sergeant Cathrine (“Katie”) Schmid, a 33-year-old woman and 12-year member of the U.S. Army currently serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, who has applied to become an Army Warrant Officer;
- Petty Officer First Class Terece Lewis, a 33-year-old woman and 14-year member of the U.S. Navy serving on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis out of Bremerton, Washington;
- Chief Warrant Officer Lindsey Muller, a 35-year-old woman and 17-year member of the U.S. Army serving at Camp Humphreys near Seoul, South Korea;
- Petty Officer Second Class Phillip Stephens, a 29-year-old man and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving at Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Florida;
- Petty Officer Second Class Megan Winters, a 29-year-old woman and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.;
- Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old Seattle man who currently works as a social worker and wishes to become an officer doing social work for the military;
- Drew Layne, a high-school student from Corpus Christi, Texas, who is 17 years old and, with parental support, wants to join the Air Force; and
- A ninth individual currently serving in the military who remains anonymous.
The government-commissioned RAND study released in May 2016 determined that the cost of providing transition-related care is exceedingly small relative to U.S. Armed Forces overall health care expenditures, that there are no readiness implications that prevent transgender members from serving openly, and that numerous foreign militaries have successfully permitted open service without a negative effect on effectiveness, readiness or unit cohesion. Based on that study, the Pentagon lifted the ban on open service by transgender men and women in July 2016.
- July 2016: Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon lifts ban on open service by transgender men and women
- July 26, 2017: President Trump posts a series of tweets in the early morning hours announcing that, “The United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
- August 25, 2017: President Trump issues a formal memorandum directing the military to continue the ban on enlistment by those they learn are transgender, even though our armed forces currently are facing recruitment challenges, including in high demand positions like linguists, health care providers, social workers and aviators.
- August 28, 2017: Lambda Legal and the Modern Military Association of America file suit.
- September 14, 2017: Lambda Legal and the Modern Military Association of America file motion for preliminary injunction to halt transgender military ban.
- September 25, 2017: State of Washington files a motion to intervene in support of the plaintiffs.
- November 11, 2017: District court denies Department of Justice's stay request.
- November 14, 2017: U.S. District Court judge grants the state of Washington’s motion to intervene in support of the plaintiffs.
- December 11, 2017: Court orders U.S. military to immediately halt ban.
- January 25, 2018: Lambda Legal and the Modern Military Association of America file motion for summary judgment.
- March 23, 2018: White House releases proposed plan.
- March 27, 2018: Lambda Legal and the Modern Military Association of America argue before a federal district court that the Trump Administration’s plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services is so clearly unconstitutional that it should be permanently blocked.
- April 13, 2018: A federal court in Seattle rejects the Trump Administration’s claim that its “new” discriminatory plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services passes muster.
- June 15, 2018: The same federal court denied the administration’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction granted in December 2017, blocking implementation of the ban and enabling transgender people to enlist in the military for the first time starting January 1, 2018.
- July 18, 2018: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the government’s motion for a stay pending appeal, rejecting yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to implement its discriminatory plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services.
- October 10, 2018: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument on why the preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the discriminatory ban should not be dissolved.
- November 23, 2018: The DOJ asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the three district court rulings that have kept the Trump administration from implementing its discriminatory plan before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issues its ruling.
- December 26, 2018: Lambda Legal and the Modern Military Association of America asked the U.S. Supreme Court to deny the petition for cert before judgment.
- June 14, 2019: Ninth Circuit Court holds in unanimous decision that this administration’s ban targets transgender people.
- January 25, 2021: President Biden issues Executive Order that revokes the ban.