The last week or so has seen the resolution of a few court cases at various levels that could have major effects on future legal battles. We gathered some highlights for you:
Trans military ban shot down by a U.S. District Court:
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California decided on Sept. 18 that it will not dissolve the preliminary injunction that prevents the U.S. military from banning or discharging transgender service members until the case makes it through the courts. The California case, Stockman v. Trump, is one of four similar cases that set out to challenge the Trump administration’s proposed ban. In all four cases, judges have denied the administration’s motions to dissolve the injunction.
Check out Judge Jesus Bernal’s eloquent argument against the popular position that allowing transgender service members would affect “unit cohesion.”:
In the history of military service in this country, “the loss of unit cohesion” has been consistently weaponized against open service by a new minority group. Yet, at every turn, this assertion has been overcome by the military’s steadfast ability to integrate these individuals into effective members of our armed forces. As with blacks, women, and gays, so now with transgender persons. The military has repeatedly proven its capacity to adapt and grow stronger specifically by the inclusion of these individuals. Therefore, the government cannot use “the loss of unit cohesion” as an excuse to prevent an otherwise qualified class of discrete and insular minorities from joining the armed forces. The Court finds this justification of the transgender ban is not exceedingly persuasive and cannot survive intermediate scrutiny.
Federal court rules in favor of intersex activist seeking a gender-neutral passport:
Dana Zzyym, the intersex activist who was denied a passport four years ago due to the fact that they could not identify as either male or female on their passport application (U.S. passports do not have a gender-neutral option), received a welcome ruling on Sept. 19.
A judge in the District Court of Colorado ruled that the U.S. Department of State overreached when it denied Zzyym’s passport. While the Department of State lost its first case in this matter in 2016, they continued to refuse to issue a passport to Zzyym, claiming in spite of evidence from Zzyym’s doctor and their birth certificate, that they had to choose one gender or the other. Hopefully, this ruling will encourage the United States to join the 10 countries that already offer gender-neutral options on their passports.
Read the opinion by Judge R. Brooke Jackson here.
Same-sex couples may proceed with lawsuit regarding religious Michigan adoption agencies:
On Sept. 14, a federal judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of two same-sex couples who have challenged Michigan’s questionable adoption agency funding laws. That means their important case will move forward.
The law in question: A 2015 Michigan state law that protects the taxpayer funding of religious adoption agencies, even when those agencies decide to refuse to assist same-sex couples. Lawmakers claim it makes the state more impartial, as they don’t interfere with the agencies’ rights to practice their religion, but this “impartial” law has affected same-sex couples trying to grow their family.
The couples in this case, Kristy and Dana Dumont and Erin and Rebecca Busk-Sutton, will proceed as planned, and we’ll have to keep our eye on how it goes. Colorado proposed its own religious exemption bill in the areas of adoption, child care and foster care in the 2018 legislative session. While not entirely parallel to Michigan’s (which simply protects the agencies’ funding), it speaks to the same cultural tug-of-war between religious rights and LGBTQ rights that has been taking place in various courts and legislatures across the country.