Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Federal court upholds injunction preventing discharge of HIV+ airmen
2020-01-10

This article shared 2902 times since Fri Jan 10, 2020
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


( Richmond, VA, January 10, 2020 ) — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling inRoe & Voe v. Esper that halted efforts by the Trump administration to discharge members of the Air Force because they are living with HIV. The decision will allow two active-duty Airmen living with HIV, identified pseudonymously as Richard Roe and Victor Voe, to continue serving in the U.S. Air Force as well as preventing the discharge of any other Airmen living with HIV.

The court ruled that the government's justifications "fail to account for current medical literature and expert opinion about current HIV treatment and transmission risks." The opinion, written by Judge Wynn and joined by Judge Diaz and Judge Floyd, stated:

"A ban on deployment may have been justified at a time when HIV treatment was less effective at managing the virus and reducing transmission risks. But any understanding of HIV that could justify this ban is outmoded and at odds with current science. Such obsolete understandings cannot justify a ban, even under a deferential standard of review and even according appropriate deference to the military's professional judgments."

"I am extremely relieved to learn that I can continue to serve this country like any other service member. Serving in the U.S. military has been the greatest honor of my life and I'm thrilled to see this court affirm the lower court ruling in our favor. No one should be discharged or discriminated against because of HIV when it does not interfere whatsoever with our capacity to serve." said plaintiff Victor Voe.

In February, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction halting implementation of the administration's discriminatory discharge policies while the lawsuit proceeded, finding that the Airmen had a likelihood of success on their claims at trial. Today, the Fourth Circuit affirmed that ruling.

"This is the second federal court to find that the Trump administration's attempt to discharge these individuals is unlikely to pass legal muster," said Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal. "At the root of these discharge decisions and other restrictions on the service of people living with HIV are completely outdated and bigoted ideas about HIV. Today's ruling clears the way for us to definitively prove at trial that a person living with HIV can perform the job of soldier or airman as well and as safely as anyone else. We are confident Roe and Voe will succeed because the Government is unable to offer a reasonable justification for their discriminatory treatment of servicemembers living with HIV."

Today's ruling came in the case Roe & Voe v. Esper ( formerly Roe & Voe v. Shanahan ), filed in December 2018 by Lambda Legal and Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA, formerly OutServe-SLDN ) with pro-bono co-counsel Winston & Strawn.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and MMAA represent two active-duty Airmen living with HIV, identified pseudonymously as Richard Roe and Victor Voe. Lambda Legal and MMAA have filed two other lawsuits similarly challenging the Pentagon's discriminatory discharge policy targeting servicemembers living with HIV — Harrison v. Esper and Deese & Doe v. Esper. MMAA is also an organizational plaintiff in Roe & Voe v. Esper, on behalf of its members who are active servicemembers living with HIV.

"I joined this lawsuit because I feared I would be discharged from the military, but also because of the lingering stigma and many misconceptions about what it is to live with HIV today," said plaintiff Richard Roe. "I am very pleased the 4th Circuit decision will allow us to continue serving the country we love."

"We're thrilled with the court's decision upholding the injunction that prevents the Trump-Pence administration from wrongfully discharging these Airmen living with HIV," said Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA ) Legal and Policy Director Peter Perkowski. "In light of major advancements in medical treatments, there is no legitimate reason these servicemembers cannot or should not be able to continue to serve their country. It's past time for the Department of Defense's outdated policies to catch up with modern science."

The preliminary injunction was granted in February against the U.S. Department of Defense and the Secretary of the Air Force to halt discharge proceedings against active duty HIV-positive Airmen. In granting the preliminary injunction, the district court not only ruled the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claims that they should be retained, but also that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claims that they should be permitted to deploy as well.

The decision on the preliminary injunction comes approximately four months after a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from both sides on September 18, in which Geoffrey Eaton, Partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, argued on behalf of the plaintiffs. In the argument judges questioned the Department of Justice lawyers representing the Trump Administrations for more clear answers as to why the Department of Defense believes its policies are justified.

The opinion concludes:

"The Government's explanations for why it has imposed an effective ban on deploying HIV-positive servicemembers to CENTCOM's area of responsibility are at odds with modern science. These servicemembers, like other HIV-positive individuals with undetectable viral loads, have no symptoms of HIV. They take daily medication—usually one pill, for some people two—and need a regular, but routine blood test. They cannot transmit the virus through normal daily activities, and their risk of transmitting the virus through battlefield exposure, if the virus can be transmitted at all, is extremely low. Although transmission through blood transfusion is possible, these servicemembers have been ordered not to donate blood. But the Government did not consider these realities when discharging these servicemembers, instead relying on assumptions and categorical determinations. As a result, the Air Force denied these servicemembers an individualized determination of their fitness for military service."

In addition to contesting the unlawful discharges, the lawsuit challenges the Pentagon's discriminatory deployment policies, which prevent service members living with HIV from deploying to most locations outside the United States. For years, these unjustifiable policies have restricted the opportunities of service members living with HIV. Now the Trump administration and the Air Force are using these same deployment restrictions to justify discharging service members solely based on HIV status.

Joining Lambda Legal and MMAA on the legal team are attorneys from Winston & Strawn LLP and Greenberg Traurig LLP, serving as pro-bono co-counsel. Harrison v. Esper, a companion case challenging the Army's refusal to commission an enlisted soldier as a JAG officer based on his HIV status, is set to proceed to trial alongside Roe and Voe v. Esper in the Eastern District of Virginia, likely in the spring. The same attorneys are working on both cases.

Read more about the case here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/roe-and-voe-v-shanahan .

Read the opinion here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/roe_va_20200110_opinion .

Read Richard Roe's op-ed about his experience: www.advocate.com/commentary/2019/9/18/pentagon-tried-discharge-me-being-hiv-today-i-fight-back .

Read Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus' op-ed: www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/05/discriminating-against-hiv-positive-military-members-is-unproductive-our-military/ .

You can find this release here: www.lambdalegal.org/news/va_20200110_victory-court-upholds-injunction-preventing-discharge-hiv-positive-airmen .

—From a press release


This article shared 2902 times since Fri Jan 10, 2020
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: World AIDS Day, 'Benedetta,' books, wine in a can
2021-11-26
—World AIDS Day event at Belmont Harbor: —The Chicago Parks Foundation will hold a World AIDS Day event on Dec. 1, 9-10:30 a.m., at the Belmont Harbor Yacht Club. Antonio King, LGBTQ health and outreach liaison ...


Gay News

World AIDS Day events on tap
2021-11-26
World AIDS Day takes place every year on Dec. 1. During this year—which marks the 40th anniversary since HIV was officially discovered—here are some of the events taking place (locally, regionally and nationally) on, before and ...


Gay News

New COVID variant discovered in South Africa
2021-11-26
Global authorities reacted with alarm to a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, with the European Union and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists tried to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant, ...


Gay News

BIPOC LGBTQ+-led orgs and spaces adapt to continued effects of COVID-19
2021-11-25
s the world continues to grapple with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some BIPOC LGBTQ+-led bars and community-building organizations have adapted by implementing increased safety protocols and strengthening ...


Gay News

COVID Chicago's travel advisory back up to 40 states and one territory
2021-11-24
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) added two states to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory on Nov. 23. The advisory stands at 40 states and one territory. Connecticut, whose daily COVID Case rate per 100,000 ...


Gay News

AFC commemorates passing of the HIV decriminalization law with World AIDS Day event Dec. 1
2021-11-24
--From a press release - The World AIDS Day Community Celebration of the Historic Passage of HB1063, which ended criminal penalties against people living with HIV, will be hosted by AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC). It will also commemorate World AIDS Day, ...


Gay News

WORLD HIV case, Ireland items, Kim Petras, actress' illness
2021-11-21
A woman in Argentina has become only the second documented person whose own immune system may have cured her of HIV, NBC News noted. Researchers have dubbed the 30-year-old mother, who was first diagnosed with HIV ...


Gay News

COVID U.S. opens boosters for all adults
2021-11-20
On Nov. 19, the United States, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allowed COVID-19 booster shots for all adults and took the extra step of urging people 50 and older to seek one, ...


Gay News

HHS acts to prevent discrimination, strengthen civil rights
2021-11-19
--From a press release - Washington D.C. — Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced actions to further ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+ equality in nine Illinois municipalities detailed in Human Rights Campaign Index
2021-11-18
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, in partnership with The ...


Gay News

COVID Chicago's travel advisory down to 38 states, one territory
2021-11-17
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) removed three states and returned one to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory on Nov. 16. The advisory stands at 38 states and one territory. Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee—all of ...


Gay News

SAGE Board of Directors dedicates $1M to support trans elders
2021-11-17
--From a press release - [New York, NY] SAGE, the world's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, is proud to announce the Transgender and Non-Binary (TGNB) Elder Program Equity Fund. Trans Awareness Week is ...


Gay News

Chicago Therapy Collective to honor Trans Day of Resilience
2021-11-16
On Saturday, Nov. 20, Chicago Therapy Collective will release an original music video cover of Wildfires (Sault, 2020) in honor of Trans Day of Resilience (TDOR) 2021 and the racial justice uprisings of 2020. According to ...


Gay News

Northwestern University researchers present data on COVID-19 impacts on minoritized youth
2021-11-16
Two Northwestern University-affiliated researchers presented a webinar Nov.9 about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth in minoritized communities in the United States, among them youths in the LGBTQ+ community. The webinar was part of ...


Gay News

New posters advise Native American caregivers on raising LGBTQ-2S children
2021-11-15
By Cris Villalonga-Vivoni - On Oct. 27, the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at San Francisco State University further expanded its ongoing "Healthy Futures" poster series by launching three new behavioral guides for indigenous parents ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.