LGBTQ rights group calls transgender troop ban ‘distressing,’ but still holds out hope

A supporter of LGBT rights holds up an 'equality flag' on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, during an event held by Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass. in response to President Donald Trump's declaration that he wants transgender people barred from serving in the U.S. military 'in any capacity,' citing 'tremendous medical costs and disruption.' (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

A supporter of LGBT rights holds up an 'equality flag' on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, during an event held by Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass. in response to President Donald Trump's declaration that he wants transgender people barred from serving in the U.S. military 'in any capacity,' citing 'tremendous medical costs and disruption.' (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for the Trump administration’s temporary restrictions on transgender troops to go forward. But equality activists say the case is far from over.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices decided to allow the military to block transgender people from serving on an interim basis while the courts weigh whether the ban is constitutional.

That’s upsetting, acknowledged a representative of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the U.S.

But it’s only an interim move, said Sarah McBride, the organization’s national press secretary and a Wilmington resident.

“This decision, while distressing and really causing harm to thousands of transgender people, it’s temporary as the case makes its way through the courts,” she said. “This wasn’t a decision on the merits, and we believe when the highest court has the opportunity to review the evidence and discovery and hear the oral arguments, that they’ll come down where the majority of federal courts have come down, which is that this ban is unconstitutional.”

President Trump announced the policy of preventing transgender people from joining the military via a tweet in July 2017.

“This is a policy that was thrust on to the military by Donald Trump, Mike Pence and a small group of anti-LGBTQ zealots that have been targeting LGBTQ people from day one of this administration,” McBride said.

Tuesday’s ruling allows the military to prohibit transgender people from joining while lower courts rule on its legality. Regardless of how the lower courts rule, the ban will likely return to the Supreme Court for a hearing on its merits.

McBride said she sees that as a cause for concern with Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh tilting the court in a more conservative direction.

Still, she said she remains hopeful.

“I think that our hope is that there are enough justices on this court who are truly willing to listen to the arguments and will come out where other courts have come out, which is that this ban … does not help national security — in fact, it hurts national security — and that this ban is unconstitutional,” McBride said.

When he announced the ban, Trump tweeted: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

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