Roe and Voe v. Austin (formerly v. Esper and at filing v. Shanahan)
Lambda Legal, Modern Military Association of America (MMAA), with partner law firm Winston & Strawn, filed a lawsuit on behalf of two HIV-positive members of the United States Air Force who were given discharge orders just days before the holiday season.
Lambda Legal, Modern Military Association of America (MMAA), and the law firm Winston & Strawn filed the lawsuit, Roe and Voe v. Shanahan, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The case was filed anonymously to protect the plaintiffs’ medical privacy. The plaintiffs received notification just days before Thanksgiving, denying their discharge appeals despite compliance with fitness assessments and medical treatment, as well as strong support from commanding officers. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs were found “unfit for continued military service.”
The lawsuit challenges the Pentagon’s discriminatory deployment policies, which prevent service members living with HIV from deploying outside the United States without a waiver. For years, these policies have restricted the opportunities of service members with HIV. Now these same deployment restrictions are being used to justify separating service members solely based on HIV status. The “Deploy or Get Out” policy, unveiled by the Trump administration in February 2018, directs the Pentagon to identify service members who cannot be deployed to military posts outside of the United States for more than 12 consecutive months and to separate them from military service. Since current U.S. military policy identifies service members living with HIV as non-deployable, they face immediate discharge under this Trump policy.
December 19, 2018: Lambda Legal and MMAA, with partner law firm Winston & Strawn, file lawsuit.
January 11, 2019: Lambda Legal files motion for a preliminary injunction.
February 1, 2019: Lambda Legal files opposition to the motion to dismiss and reply brief in support of their motion for a preliminary injunction.
January 10, 2020: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirms injunction preventing the Trump administration from discharging Air Force members living with HIV.