RICHMOND, Va. — Lambda Legal, the Modern Military Association of America (MMAA, formerly OutServe-SLDN) and pro bono partner Winston & Strawn LLP have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to uphold a preliminary injunction that prevents the Trump administration from continuing with discharge proceedings against members of the U.S. Air Force living with HIV.
The groups made the argument on Wednesday in Roe & Voe v. Shanahan, the lawsuit filed last December on behalf of two airmen. They have been identified with pseudonyms
“Serving my country has been the greatest honor of my life; One that I am extremely grateful for and proud of.” said plaintiff Victor Voe in a statement from Lambda Legal. “All my fellow service members in this lawsuit and I want is to be able to continue to serve, and to do so without unnecessary restrictions preventing us from giving this country what it deserves—our best.”
In February 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted the preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Defense and the Secretary of the Air Force to halt discharge proceedings against active duty HIV-positive Airmen. In granting the injunction, the district court ruled the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claims that the military policies preventing the deployment of service members with HIV are outdated and irrational.
“Thanks to modern science, there is no legitimate reason to deny servicemembers living with HIV the ability to continue to serve their country,” said MMAA Executive Director Andy Blevins. “Major advances in the treatment of HIV have rendered the virus untransmittable. At a time when the military is struggling to meet recruiting goals, the last thing the Department of Defense should be doing is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and discharging highly trained servicemembers based on outdated science.”
In July, military experts, medical associations and HIV advocates filed amicus briefs against both the discharges and the administration not deploying servicemembers with HIV.