June 19, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), a former active duty Air Force officer, sent a letter with 11 Members of Congress who served in the military or in national security fields urging the Department of Defense to rescind its transgender servicemember ban. In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ employees from discrimination, the Members argue in their letter to Defense Secretary Esper that this standard should be applied to military service too. Previously, Rep. Lieu has repeatedly called for the end of this discriminatory ban.

 The letter is signed by Reps. Lieu, Gallego, Houlahan, Pascrell, Jr.,  Sherrill, Carbajal, Panetta, Brown, Moulton, Cisneros, Malinowski and Crow. 

In the letter, the Members write:

Dear Secretary Esper,

We write today as Members of Congress who previously served on active duty or in national security fields. We request that the Department of Defense rescind its discriminatory policy on transgender military service and remove the presumptive disqualification for transgender individuals who want to serve our country in the armed forces.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ employees from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In the Court’s majority opinion, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that when an employer fires an employee “for being homosexual or transgender,” that employer “fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

While lower courts have held that Title VII does not apply to uniformed military personnel, it is in our nation’s interest that the policies of our armed forces align with the spirit and intent of our civil rights laws to the utmost extent possible. Indeed, it is in our military’s own interest to focus on standards that directly impact mission success like physical fitness rather than on policies that effectively discriminate against patriotic Americans based on gender identity. We strongly urge you to rescind the Department’s policy on transgender military service and stand ready—as Members of Congress, as veterans, and as Americans—to assist.

We look forward to your response.