OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today asked a federal court to allow the State of Washington to join a federal lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.
“Thousands of transgender individuals serve or have served their country with honor and distinction,” Ferguson said. “Barring transgender individuals from serving based on anything other than their ability and conduct is wrong.”
"We are a state that welcomes and embraces the skills, talents and dedicated service of all our military men and women, regardless of gender identity,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “Our state will fight any discriminatory order that targets and negatively impacts Washingtonians and pits our state's inclusive laws against the unjustified and discriminatory federal policies being promulgated by the current Administration."
Gov. Inslee’s Chief of Staff David Postman submitted a declaration in support of Ferguson’s motion.
In the motion to intervene, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Ferguson argues that the ban “constitutes undisguised sex and gender identity discrimination that serves no legitimate purpose and its implementation will have significant, damaging impacts on the State of Washington and its residents.”
Washington is home to approximately 60,000 active, reserve and National Guard members. The Washington National Guard is an integral part of Washington’s emergency preparedness and disaster recovery planning. The President’s order would apply to the Washington National Guard in addition to active-duty military.
In August, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed a lawsuit on behalf of several transgender plaintiffs who are currently serving or want to serve in the military. Washington state is seeking to join this lawsuit.
In July, Ferguson and 18 attorneys general sent a letter calling on members of the U.S. Armed Services Committee to stand with transgender military service members following President Trump’s announcement of the new policy via Twitter.
Ferguson has been an advocate for transgender rights. He filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting transgender student Gavin Grimm, urged a federal court to reject efforts to block the government’s ability to protect the civil rights of transgender people, and led a multistate coalition urging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide transgender veterans access to health care.
The court will make its decision sometime after a three-week “noting period” has elapsed.
Ferguson created the Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit in 2015 to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Ferguson named the unit for Wing Luke, who served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; email@example.com