Court partially blocks Trump's transgender military ban

It's more bad news for Donald Trump: The same his campaign advisor Paul Manefort was indicted, a federal court judge blocked the president's ban on transgender service people in the U.S. Armed Forces.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction against a proposal from the Trump administration that would have barred transgender persons from joining the military and would have forced now serving transgender troops to be discharged.

Mr Trump in July said he would ban transgender people from the military in a move that would reverse Democratic former president Barack Obama's policy and halt years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He announced that he'd return to a policy where service members could be discharged for being trans.

In a 76-page memo accompanying the ruling, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their case arguing the transgender ban violates their Fifth Amendment right to due process. Transgender individuals were to be allowed to enlist in the military in June 2017, a timeline initially delayed under the Trump administration to January 1, 2018. Under his proposal, transgender recruits would be banned from the military, medical treatment funding for current transgender troops would be completely cut off, and Defense Secretary James Mattis would have power to expel transgender service members.

One issue not directly addressed in Monday's ruling was whether federal funds should be used to pay for sexual reassignment surgeries for members of the military.

In response to Trump's memo at the time, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a motion for preliminary injunction to put a halt on the ban, which Kollar-Kotelly issued this morning. The administration has sought to prohibit such payments; Kollar-Kotelly said she didn't have jurisdiction to rule on the issue because none of the plaintiffs in the case established a likelihood of being impacted by that prohibition.

Kollar-Kotelly said several factors suggest the plaintiffs' claims are meritorious.

Other lawsuits challenging the president's directive have been filed in Seattle and Baltimore. There is no definite figure for how many transgender people are now on active duty, but estimates range from about 2,500 to 15,500.

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