Federal judge rules that transgender people can sue over military ban

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that transgender people can move forward with a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban on trans people in the military. Stars & Stripes reported this week that U.S. District Judge George Russell in Maryland ruled that transgender men and women who would otherwise be eligible for military service can proceed with their case against the partial ban currently in force. Current servicemembers were grandfathered in with the policy put in place by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Since current members can stay, they won’t be allowed to proceed with the suit, the newspaper said. 

Trump issued the ban back in 2017 and it has been at the center of a legal battle ever since. In March 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the ban could go into effect in April.

Administration tells SCOTUS it’s okay to discriminate against LGBTQ

WASHINGTON — In a brief filed Friday, the Trump Administration told the U.S. Supreme Court that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t apply to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The Washington Blade reported that the brief was filed by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. “The question here is not whether Title VII should forbid employment discrimination because of sexual orientation, but whether it already does,” the brief says, according to the Blade. “The statute’s plain text makes clear that it does not; discrimination because of ‘sex’ forbids treating members of one sex worse than similarly situated members of the other — and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, standing alone, does not result in such treatment.”

The brief was filed in the consolidated case of Bostock v. Clayton County and Zarda v. Attitude Express, both of which involve people who were fired for being gay. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the case on Oct.

Indy archdiocese claims First Amendment defense against gay teacher’s lawsuit

INDIANAPOLIS — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis is saying the First Amendment should block a gay teacher’s lawsuit against them for discrimination. On Thursday, the Indianapolis Star reported that the archdiocese was trying to have the lawsuit dismissed by claiming the First Amendment prohibits a secular court from ruling on church matters. According to the newspaper, the archdiocese said “This case strikes at the heart of the First Amendment’s protections for separation of church and state.” Joshua Payne-Elliott sued the archdiocese for discrimination in July. He had been fired from Cathedral High School in June for being in a same-sex marriage.

Chicago transgender woman suing Circle K for discrimination

CHICAGO — A transgender woman is suing convenience store chain Circle K, alleging she was fired after she complained about harassment and discrimination she had experienced. Judi Brown filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, saying the company violated federal and state law. She is being represented by the ACLU of Illinois. “I was terminated because I am an African-American transgender woman and because I refused to stay quiet about the discrimination I was going through,” Brown said in a statement from the ACLU. “The discrimination and harassment were traumatizing and needed to be called out.


Federal judge overturns Wisc. Medicaid ban on paying for transition care

MADISON, Wisc. — A judge ruled on Friday that Wisconsin’s Medicaid program can’t deny treatment for gender-confirmation surgeries and other transition related care. On Monday, Courthouse News Service reported that against the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or DHS, was filed by Cody Flack of Green Bay and Sara Ann Makenzie of Baraboo back in April 2018. The plaintiffs challenged a 1997 amendment to state Medicaid regulations that excluded coverage for “drugs, including hormone therapy, associated with transsexual surgery,” deeming them “medically unnecessary.”

From Courthouse News Service:
Flack, a transgender man, and Makenzie, a transgender woman, both suffer from severe gender dysphoria. They argued that the exclusion violates the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid Act and the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

Lambda Legal to district court: Rescinding job offer due to HIV status is discrimination

LAFAYETTE, La. — Last week, Lambda Legal urged a federal district court judge to find that a parish sheriff violated theAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when he withdrew a job offer to a person with HIV. Lambda Legal said in a press release that Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal rescinded a job offer for William “Liam” Pierce to serve as a sheriff’s deputy after learning that Pierce was a person living with HIV. While U.S. District Court Judge Michael Juneau denied the motion because the Sheriff had not yet been deposed and some facts remain in dispute, he also expressed skepticism regarding the Sheriff’s prospects for proving the legality of the office’s conduct. The case now proceeds to trial, scheduled for January 6, 2020.

Pritzker signs LGBTQ-inclusive jury service non-discrimination legislation

CHICAGO — On Aug. 9, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law that will protect LGBTQ Illinoisans from discrimination in jury service, according to Equality Illinois. “Serving on a jury is a fundamental obligation of American democracy. Now, like other pro-equality states, Illinois will protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jury service,” said Michael Ziri, Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBTQ people. “This new law will bring our judicial system nearer to eliminating discrimination and ensuring equal protection under the law.