In a bold move pernicious even for the Trump administration, two US Air Force service members have been discharged for their HIV status.
According to an exclusive in today’s Washington Post, “two U.S. airmen filed suit on Wednesday against Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, arguing that the Pentagon’s decision last month to discharge them from the military owing to their HIV status violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause and federal law. They have asked the court to strike down the decision.”
Lambda Legal quickly issued a statement in support that said in conjunction with OutServe-SLDN, and with the law firm Winston & Strawn, they 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.
“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. “These decisions should be based on science, not stigma. Lambda Legal is suing to stop these separations and will keep fighting until President Trump understands that there’s not a job in the world a person living with HIV cannot safely perform, including the job of soldier.”
Lamda’s statement explains that the lawsuit “challenges the Pentagon’s discriminatory deployment policies, which prevent service members living with HIV from deploying outside the United States without a waiver. For years, these policies have restricted the opportunities of service members with HIV. Now these same deployment restrictions are being used to justify separating service members solely based on HIV status. The ‘Deploy or Get Out’ policy, unveiled by the Trump administration in February 2018, directs the Pentagon to identify service members who cannot be deployed to military posts outside of the United States for more than 12 consecutive months and to separate them from military service. Since current U.S. military policy identifies service members living with HIV as non-deployable, they face immediate discharge under this Trump policy.”
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