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LGBTQ Military Service Policy Challenge

By Charlotte Robinson, November 11, 2022

Just in time for Veterans Day Lambda Legal has filed a legal challenge to the U.S. Military policy that prevents people living with HIV from enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces. The discriminatory policy requires that applicants for appointment & enlistment as well as individuals being inducted into military Services be screened for HIV & denied entry if they test positive. Kara Ingelhart, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal stated, “The existing policy is out of step with science & unlawfully excludes people living with HIV from performing as members of the U.S. military. A positive HIV status alone has no effect on a person’s ability to safely serve. Because HIV disproportionately impacts LGBTQ+ people & people of color, this discriminatory policy is not only outdated, but is also a serious equity issue that has a significant impact on communities who already face countless systemic barriers to accessing full life in America. Striking this policy would help expand opportunities for over 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with HIV — 42% of which are Black & 21.7% are Latinx.” Lambda Legal & co-counsel Winston & Strawn LLP, Perkowski Legal, PC & Scott A. Schoettes, Esq. filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of three individual plaintiffs who have been denied enlistment based on their HIV status. Bryce Cooper of Winston & Strawn concluded, “The military ban on Americans living with HIV is yet another holdover from a long era of needless discrimination. The time has long passed for this senseless policy to end.” 

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