Federal Judge Temporarily Prevents Discharge of Two HIV Positive Airmen
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema placed a preliminary injunction against the Department of Defense (DOD) in the pending discharge of two HIV positive airmen on Friday.
Two airmen under the pseudonyms “Richard Roe” and “Victor Voe,” who were given their discharge papers in late November 2018, first filed the lawsuit against the DOD in December 2018. The two service men allege in the lawsuit that, despite meeting all medical and physical requirements the discharge papers stated they were being released due to being, “unfit for continued military service.” The lawsuit further states that the Pentagon is discriminating against service members who have HIV through a rule that disallows those found to be HIV positive from serving outside the US without a waiver. In February of 2018 the Trump administration instituted a rule preventing service members who cannot be deployed outside the US for more than one continuous year from reenlisting.
Before the implementation of the 2018 rule at least 13 known HIV positive airmen had been allowed to serve over seas.
Judge Brinkema approved the preliminary injunction because,
“the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in preventing their discharge through the lawsuit.”
Scott Schoettes, counsel and HIV project director at Lambda Legal who’s has filed a separate suit for others affected by this said,
“These decisions should be based on science, not stigma, as today’s ruling from the bench demonstrates,” further, “We still have to prove at trial that people living with HIV are deployable. But in the meantime they’re not going to be able to get rid of any of those service members.”
DOD representatives state that they do not comment on pending cases.