Lambda Legal calls for transgender military ban injunction to be maintained

WASHINGTON — Lambda Legal on Friday called for an injunction blocking the Trump administration’s transgender military ban to be maintained. The legal group asked for the U.S. Supreme Court to continue to stay enforcement of the ban. “The sudden urgency of the Trump administration’s effort to discriminate against transgender service members is bordering on the ridiculous,” Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said in a press release. “Not only has it sought to short-circuit established practice by seeking Supreme Court review before the Courts of Appeal have ruled, but now it wants to be able to implement the ban to kick out transgender service members even if the Court denies that petition. Notwithstanding the fact that every court to rule on the discriminatory ban has ruled against it, the Trump administration seems intent on doing everything in its power to enshrine discrimination.

Lambda Legal: Supreme Court should deny premature request for review of transgender military ban rulings

WASHINGTON – Lambda Legal today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to deny a petition from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asking that the Court review three preliminary federal district court rulings that have kept the Trump administration from implementing its discriminatory plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services. The three preliminary rulings include one from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in the lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, and joined by the State of Washington, challenging the constitutionality of the proposed ban. “There is no valid reason for the Trump-Pence administration to try to short-circuit established practice and ask for review before the federal Courts of Appeal have even had an opportunity to rule,” Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said. “It is mystifying why the Trump-Pence administration is suddenly so desperate to kick out transgender service members when it’s been already five months since the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an earlier stay request. “Moreover, since transgender troops were able to serve openly starting two-and-a-half years ago, there has been no diminution of readiness, no disruption of unit cohesion.” Renn added.

Apple takes down anti-LGBTQ group’s app from store

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple has removed an app from an organization that promotes “conversion therapy.” NBC News reported on Sunday that Living Hope Ministries had it’s app removed from the Apple Store after LGBTQ rights groups lobbied the tech giant to remove it. From NBC News:

Truth Wins Out, which says it fights “anti-gay religious extremism,” launched a petition Thursday urging Apple to remove the app by Living Hope Ministries, a nonprofit that says it serves “those who are seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Living Hope Ministries developed its app three years ago, according to its executive director Ricky Chelette. He said the group is a “discipleship ministry” and “very much like a church.” “We help people understand who they are in Christ,” Chelette told NBC News on Sunday.

Trans military ban plaintiffs ask SCOTUS to deny the administration’s request for review

WASHINGTON — Transgender service members challenging Trump’s military ban on Monday filed briefs opposing the administration’s request that the Supreme Court hear the cases now, before the courts of appeal have ruled. The administration is seeking early review by the Court in three cases challenging the ban: Doe v. Trump, Stockman v. Trump, and Karnoski v. Trump. GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) represent plaintiffs in both Doe and Stockman and were the first to challenge the ban. The plaintiffs in these cases argue that Supreme Court review is premature and that the administration has shown no urgency to justify bypassing the normal appeals process. “The Trump administration’s relentless attacks on transgender troops, including those who are currently deployed overseas, are appalling and legally baseless,” said Shannon Minter, NCLR Legal Director.

Lambda Legal joins in lawsuit brought against suburban DC school district on behalf of transgender teacher

BALTIMORE — Friday, Lambda Legal joined Arnold & Porter in a lawsuit filed against the Prince George’s County Public Schools and Board of Education on behalf of a transgender teacher who endured years of abuse, harassment and retaliation at the hands of school administrators, fellow teachers, staff, parents and students after she began to live authentically as the woman she is. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on behalf of Jennifer Eller, an English teacher who taught at three schools within the district from 2008 to 2017, when she was forced to resign. “For years, I was aggressively misgendered, attacked and harassed in the hallways and even in my own classroom by students, peers and supervisors,” Eller said. “I woke up each day afraid to go to work because I didn’t know where the next attack would come from, but I already knew full well that the school administrators would do nothing to support me. My pleas for help, for sensitivity training on LGBTQ issues for students and staff, fell on deaf ears.

Colorado baker back in court over another LGBTQ discrimination case

DENVER — Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop that was at the center of a discrimination case that went to the Supreme Court, is back in court. NBC OUT posted a story that lawyers for Philips were suing the state of Colorado to stop enforcement in yet another LGBTQ discrimination case. From NBC OUT:
“At this point, he’s just a guy who is trying to get back to life. The problem is the state of Colorado won’t let him,” Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said after the hearing. The conservative Christian nonprofit law firm is representing Phillips.

Administration starts firing HIV-positive servicemembers before holidays, Lambda Legal files suit

WASHINGTON — Today, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, 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 and OutServe-SLDN filed the lawsuit, Roe and Voe v. Mattis, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. As detailed in a Washington Post exclusive, 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.”

“It’s disgusting that the Trump administration is sending some men and women in uniform home for the holidays without jobs simply because of their HIV status,” said Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal.

Lambda Legal sues Social Security Administration for third same-sex widower denied survivor’s benefits

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Lambda Legal today filed a motion on behalf of a 63-year-old gay man arguing that the Social Security Administration’s denial of spousal survivor’s benefits to him, on the grounds that he was not married for long enough despite marrying on the very first day when he was allowed to do so, is unconstitutional.  The lawsuit filed on behalf of Anthony Gonzales, who was in a 15-year committed relationship with his husband, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico argues that SSA’s imposition of a nine-month marriage requirement for social security survivor’s benefits is unconstitutional where same-sex couples were not able to be married for nine months because of discriminatory marriage laws. “Over the past three months, we have filed lawsuits against the Social Security Administration in three different states – Washington, Arizona and, today, New Mexico – all underscoring the ongoing harm that a number of same-sex couples continue to experience from marriage bans, despite those laws having been struck down,” said Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn. “Anthony and his husband, Mark Johnson, got married literally on the very first day they could in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was August 27, 2013. Tragically, cancer claimed Mark’s life six months later. Because they were not married for nine months, as Social Security requires, Anthony was denied access to the survivor’s benefits to which Mark contributed.

Grindr exec quits after company presidents’s anti-marriage equality comments

NEW YORK — An executive at gay app Grindr announced his resignation on a Medium.com post over the weekend, just under two weeks after anti-marriage equality statements were made by the app’s president. Landen Rafe Zumwalt said he was resigning as the app’s head of communications. Although Zumwalt didn’t expressly say his resignation was because of the comments, his references to his relationship do seem to suggest it was the trigger for his leaving. From his post:

As an out and proud gay man madly in love with a man I don’t deserve, I refused to compromise my own values or professional integrity to defend a statement that goes against everything I am and everything I believe. While that resulted in my time at Grindr being cut short, I have absolutely no regrets.