WASHINGTON D.C. — (12-28-18) — Two U.S. airmen who tested positive for HIV last year are suing former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Pentagon over what they describe as an “unconstitutional and improper” discharge do to their HIV status.
Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed the Federal lawsuit on behalf of the two airmen’s behalf on Wednesday Dec. 18. The plaintiffs, identified as Richard Roe and Victor Voe, said in the lawsuit that they both tested positive for HIV last year during routine Air Force screenings.
According to the lawsuit, both airmen began antiretroviral treatments after testing HIV+ and doctors deemed them both physically fit for deployment.
However the Pentagon ignored the doctor’s recommendations discharged both airmen just before Thanksgiving. The pentagon claims that HIV+ personnel are banned from deploying to the Middle East where many Air Force personnel are currently stationed.
“Particularly in light of dramatic medical advances ― the benefits of which have only recently been fully understood and documented ― a person’s HIV status bears no relation to that person’s ability to contribute to society,” said Roe and Voe in the lawsuit.
Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN said in the complaint…“Actions taken by the Pentagon deprives Roe and Voe of their right to equal dignity and treats them as second-class citizens in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”
Air Force spokeswoman Carrie J. Volpe sent a statement over to JRL CHARTS, dismissing the allegations made in the lawsuit. “Each fitness determination is conducted on a case by case basis. The Air Force does not find all Airmen with asymptomatic HIV unfit, and has returned more than 150 such Airmen to duty,” said Volpe.
The LGBTQ community and LGBTQ rights advocates were quick to condemn this action and took it as another attempt at President Donald Trump’s repeated efforts to attack not only the LGBTQ community but also to ban transgender recruits from serving in the U.S. military.
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) December 19, 2018
The Trump-Pence Admin wanted to kick these patriots out before the holidays. We just cant let that happen. Proud to stand alongside @LambdaLegal and Winston & Strawn as we defend these honorable service members. #gotyoursix https://t.co/ZcP01APwvM
— OutServe-SLDN (@OutServeSLDN) December 19, 2018
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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