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Judge again blocks transgender military ban from taking effect
A federal court on Friday again said the Trump administration cannot implement its ban on most transgender military service while a lawsuit against it proceeds.
"The status quo shall remain 'steady as she goes,' and the preliminary injunction shall remain in full force and effect nationwide," Judge Marsha Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington wrote Friday.
In doing so, Pechman quoted the top Navy admiral, who told a Senate panel in April that it's been "steady as she goes" since transgender people have been allowed to serve openly.
Pechman is one of four federal judges to have issued a preliminary injunction preventing President Trump from banning transgender military service while lawsuits against the ban work their way through court.
In April, Pechman ruled the lawsuit would go to trial and the injunction would stay in place after the Pentagon issued a memo outlining a policy that would ban most transgender people from serving. In that ruling, Pechman said the memo did not represent a new policy, but rather an implementation of the ban Trump announced on Twitter in July 2017.
The Trump administration appealed Pechman's April ruling and then asked her for a stay on her injunction pending the appeal. The administration argued a stay was necessary to "prevent irreparable harm to military interests."
Pechman's ruling on Friday goes against the administration's request for a stay.
In her ruling, Pechman wrote that the Trump administration made no arguments she had not already rejected and noted that there would be no demonstrable harm in keeping the injunction in place.
Underscoring her argument, Pechman propped up Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson's "steady as she goes" testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley's testimony to the Senate panel that there have been "precisely zero" reports of problems with unit cohesion, discipline and morale.
The lawsuit was brought in Seattle by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN and joined by the state of Washington on behalf of six troops that are currently serving, three people seeking to enlist and three LGBT rights groups.
"Yet again, the Trump administration has tried to implement and expedite discrimination, and yet again, the court has said no," Lambda Legal senior attorney Peter Renn said in a statement.
"You would think the administration would get tired of all the losing, and more importantly, would read the writing on the wall and abandon this discriminatory and harmful scheme to prevent brave and qualified transgender people from serving their country."