The Trump administration has announced a new military policy that would ultimately make HIV-positive service members incapable of serving, but the policy is already being indirectly challenged in court.
The new “Deploy or Get Out!” directive is supposedly meant to improve military readiness by getting rid of soldiers who can’t deploy for more than 12 consecutive months “for any reason,” according to Bloomberg.
The Trump administration defended the policy after being questioned on it by saying:
"The determination about whether to commission an officer is one involving an inherently military judgment about whether a service member is fit and qualified to serve in such a position.”
While this policy may not mean much to LGBTQ service members alone, its combination with an already applied policy has terrible repercussions.
An earlier directive brought in during the 1980s states that service members with HIV aren’t allowed to deploy overseas. The idea was that their HIV-statuses would have been too complicated for military missions and thus made them incapable of deploying.
Unfortunately, that now outdated policy is still in action today. Combining the new “Deploy or Get Out!” policy would mean that all HIV-positive service members, who can’t deploy because of the earlier directive, would automatically be fired. This is a clear violation of constitutional rights.
Thankfully, the older directive is already being challenged in court. On September 7, a HIV-positive, 41-year-old, National Guard member from Oklahoma filed a lawsuit with the help of OutServe-SLDN, an LGBTQ military organization.
"Thus, even with the significant advances in HIV treatment, the unique demands and challenges of military service have led DoD to determine that it is necessary to generally prohibit HIV positive persons from being appointed, enlisted, or inducted into the service," according to the filings.
Again, the lawsuit has only now been filed so there’s still a long journey ahead for the court battle.