The Modern Military Association of America is committed to advancing fairness and equality for the LGBTQ and HIV+ military and veteran community. Through education, advocacy and support, we’re making a real difference in the lives of service members, veterans and their families. Our vitally important advocacy includes challenging discriminatory policies through the courts.

As we face an administration intent on rolling back the hard won progress we’ve made as a nation for the LGBTQ community, MMAA is once again stepping up and fighting back. We currently have four high-profile lawsuits challenging the Trump-Pence administration on discriminatory policies. As of October 1, 2019, here’s a quick summary of those cases:

Transgender Military Service

Just like the far majority of Americans, we believe that anyone who is qualified and willing should be able to serve in the military — including transgender people. In 2016, the military finally updated its outdated regulations, allowing transgender servicemembers to serve openly and authenically. They have proven time and again they are more than capable of accomplishing the mission, and of doing so with honor and distinction. But the current occupant of the Oval Office unconscionably decided to single out these brave American patriots for discrimination with his transgender military ban.

Karnoski v. Trump

MMAA and Lambda Legal filed this federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Trump-Pence administration’s transgender military ban. The lawsuit represents six currently serving members of the armed services; three who seek to enlist; the American Military Partner Association (now part of MMAA); the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization; and Gender Justice League, a gender and sexuality civil and human rights organization, headquartered in Seattle.

Servicemembers Living With HIV

Thanks to modern science, there is no legitimate reason to deny servicemembers living with HIV the ability to continue to serve their country without arbitrary restrictions on their assignments and ability to deploy. Major advances in the treatment of HIV have rendered the virus untransmittable. As the military struggles to meet recruiting goals, the last thing the Department of Defense should be doing is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and discharging highly trained servicemembers based on outdated science. We’re proud to be suing the Trump-Pence administration to ensure all servicemembers, including those living with HIV, are treated equally with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Roe and Voe v. Esper

MMAA and Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit challenging the Air Force’s involuntary separation of Airmen with HIV, which is purportedly based on discriminatory policies restricting their ability to deploy outside the United States without waivers, which are never granted. For years, these unjustifiable policies have restricted the opportunities of service members living with HIV. Now the Trump-Pence administration is using these same deployment restrictions to justify discharging service members solely based on HIV status, even though their doctors and their commanders support retention. MMAA is also an organizational plaintiff in this case to advance the interests of our members who are living with HIV and serving in the military. 

Harrison v. Esper

MMAA and Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit on behalf of Army Sgt. Nick Harrison, a veteran of two overseas combat zones who was denied a position in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps because current policy considers servicemembers living with HIV non-deployable, and will not allow them to enlist or to be appointed as officers. The lawsuit challenges the Pentagon’s current policies preventing enlistment, deployment or commissioning as an officer if a person is living with HIV. MMAA is also an organizational plaintiff in this case to advance the interests of its members who are living with HIV and serving in the military.

Deese and Doe v. Esper

MMAA and Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit on behalf of former Midshipman Kevin Deese and former Air Force cadet “John Doe”, who, after graduating from their respective military academies, were denied commissions based on their HIV status. Both plaintiffs had the support of their superiors and military healthcare providers to continue serving and to commission as officers, but they were separated anyway. The lawsuit challenges current policies preventing enlistment or commissioning as an officer by people living with HIV.  


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