A second federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump from banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, ruling that the prohibition likely amounts to unconstitutional discrimination.
U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis in Baltimore ruled that the ban lacked justification and “cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest.” His ruling follows a similar one by a federal judge in Washington on Oct. 30.
The lawsuit was filed in August by several service members, including lead plaintiff Brock Stone, 34, who has served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years and wants to remain for at least 20 years, according to court papers. Stone previously was deployed to Afghanistan and now works as a computer analyst at Fort Meade in Maryland.
Trump announced in July that he would ban transgender people from the military, a move that would reverse Democratic former President Barack Obama’s policy of accepting them.
The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleged that Trump’s ban violated their right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection under the law.
After his policy announcement on Twitter, Trump signed a memorandum in August that directed the armed forces not to accept transgender people as recruits and stopped the use of government funds for sex-reassignment surgeries for active-duty personnel unless the process was already underway.
The memo called on Defense Secretary James Mattis to submit a plan to the Republican president by Feb. 21 on how to implement the changes, and the Pentagon has created a panel of senior officials for that purpose. In the meantime, the current policy of allowing transgender people to serve remains in place.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)