In 1977, Marie Von Hoffburg, a female service member of the United States Army, was discharged due to her alleged homosexual tendencies. She had legally married a female-to-male transsexual in Alabama the previous year. When it was reported that her husband was originally a female, the staff judge advocate advised that Hoffburg’s marriage was null and that her service should be eliminated. The Army’s elimination board found that the sex of Hoffburg’s husband was to be defined in the biological sense rather than the psychological sense. The board subsequently recommended Hoffburg’s discharge.
The Southern Poverty Law Center appealed the decision on her behalf alongside the American Civil Liberties Union. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama dismissed the complaint, claiming that the plaintiff had not exhausted all administrative courses of action through the United States Army before taking the matter to court.