Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Military | News

Federal Court Overturns Military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy: Read the Ruling Here

A federal judge has declared the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy unconstitutional and barred the military from enforcing it, ruling in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

Soldier The L.A. Times reports:

"A federal judge in Riverside declared the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional Thursday, saying the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violates the 1st Amendment rights of lesbians and gay men. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the policy banning gays did not preserve military readiness, contrary to what many supporters have argued, saying evidence shows that the policy in fact had a 'direct and deleterious effect' on the military. Phillips said she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the policy. However, the U.S. Department of Justice, which defended 'don’t ask, don’t tell' during a two-week trial in Riverside, will have an opportunity to appeal that decision."

Phillips has given the plaintiffs until September 16 to submit a proposed judgment, including a permanent injunction, consistent with the Court's opinion. The Department of Justice then must submit its objections by September 23.

Said LCR executive director R. Clarke Cooper: "As an American, a veteran and an Army reserve officer, I am proud the court ruled that the arcane ‘don't ask, don't tell’ statute violates the Constitution. Today, the ruling is not just a win for Log Cabin Republican service members, but all American service members."

The court agreed to hear the case on June 29. Earlier in June, the Department of Justice asked the judge to defer proceedings in the case "because the political branches have taken concrete steps to facilitate repeal of the DADT statute." 

Closing arguments were held in the case on July 23, at which time the plaintiffs asked the court to declare the policy unconstitutional and issue an injunction, which Phillips did today.

The AP adds: "Government lawyers argued Phillips lacked the authority to issue a nationwide injunction and the issue should be decided by Congress...Six military officers who were discharged under the policy testified during the trial. A decorated Air Force officer testified that he was let go after his peers snooped through his personal e-mail in Iraq...Lawyers also submitted remarks by Obama stating 'don't ask, don't tell' weakens national security."

Alex-nicholson The case through which the law was struck down, Log Cabin Republicans vs. U.S.A., was originally filed in 2004. Servicemembers United's Executive Director, J. Alexander Nicholson (pictured), is the sole named injured party in the lawsuit.

Said Nicholson, a former multi-lingual U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.': "This is an historic moment and an historic ruling for the gay military community and for the readiness and integrity of our Armed Forces. As the only named injured party in this case, I am exceedingly proud to have been able to represent all who have been impacted and had their lives ruined by this blatantly unconstitutional policy. We are finally on our way to vindication." 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tweets: "Fed'l judge in CA has ruled #DADT unconstitutional. Great news! It's my hope that DOJ does not appeal. DADT is immoral & hurts our military."


DADT Unconstitutional

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  1. And they will (half-heartedly) appeal that decision, but their time is passed and they know it.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Sep 9, 2010 10:01:43 PM

  2. Three cheers for a judge brave enough to stand up for civil rights and enforce the Constitution. Amazing that it should be brought about by the Log Cabin Republicans but I won't look a gift horse in the mouth...

    Posted by: David Ezell | Sep 9, 2010 10:02:01 PM

  3. What the hell?! Why hasn't there been extensive coverage on this like there was for federal Prop 8 case? This is huge!!

    Posted by: Tom S. | Sep 9, 2010 10:10:15 PM

  4. hallelujah

    Posted by: miKem | Sep 9, 2010 10:11:47 PM

  5. If you listen closely you can hear McCain shit himself.

    Posted by: Jon Lee Hart | Sep 9, 2010 10:13:18 PM

  6. It looks like the only way we're going to get the rights that Obama promised us is to win in court against a passionate defense of the discriminatory laws by OBAMA'S Department of Justice.

    Why didn't he just tell us in 2008 that he wouldn't really do anything to pass gay rights legislatively but he would promise to fight us at every turn in the courts?

    Why not just be honest?

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Sep 9, 2010 10:14:24 PM

  7. I want to read the decision.

    Posted by: Vito J. Oliver | Sep 9, 2010 10:14:52 PM

  8. Am I reading this right? The LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS brought this suit?

    This is a Log Cabin victory?

    How the hell did that happen?

    Posted by: Tom H | Sep 9, 2010 10:16:15 PM

  9. The Log Cabin-ers bringing this about is definitive proof that politics does make strange bedfellows.

    Posted by: David Ezell | Sep 9, 2010 10:25:00 PM

  10. LCR= self loathers....otherwise thanks for bringing the case.

    Posted by: tcnsrq | Sep 9, 2010 10:33:19 PM

  11. Thank you, Log Cabin Republicans!

    "Why didn't he just tell us in 2008 that he wouldn't really do anything to pass gay rights legislatively but he would promise to fight us at every turn in the courts?"

    Tampazeke, if this is suddenly news to you, then there's nothing I can say to help you.

    Facts, whether you like them or not:

    (1) Neither party's legislative members, save for a handful of Democrats, cares one bit about LGBT equality.

    (2) Any significant progress we have made has been made by us alone. Our protests. Our court challenges. Our lawsuits. Our parades. Our op-eds. Our visibility. Our perseverance. Our "gay money."

    (3) The Log Cabin Republicans are doing more for us than Obama. Not because they are Republicans, but because they are LGBT community members.

    Stop wasting *all* your votes on Democrats. Be strategic. Learn from the banks, and buy off both sides of the aisle. Once Republicans discover "gay money," we'll get equality a lot faster. If the Democrat won't champion equality, then run a gay Republican. It's really that simple.

    For those of you in California, Boxer is a consistent ally and she needs your vote in November.

    Posted by: Max | Sep 9, 2010 10:36:14 PM

  12. It's a mistake for any constituent to become one political party's bitch. It's good thing there are Republican gays, especially those not afraid to be out, and those who maybe closeted but help behind the scenes.

    Other minorities, like African Americans, would be wise to take notice.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 9, 2010 10:38:51 PM

  13. Alright, Ari, what does this mean? On to the SCOTUS? Oh, I almost forgot--happy new year! Good health. I hope you shared it with your family.

    Posted by: TANK | Sep 9, 2010 10:40:17 PM

  14. I love the Judicial system <3

    Posted by: ravewulf | Sep 9, 2010 10:40:55 PM

  15. let's await further developments, but this is big on several metrics.

    it shows lgbt folks that there are alternatives to the democrats/human rights campaign/etc; this should scare the democrats into actually carrying out their electoral promises to the vast majority of lgbt folks who voted for them, and the hrc and gay,inc into ramping up ther lobbying efforts, lest they both lose "ownership" of the lgbt vote & purse.

    but it has the potential to make them even more stonewall any progress on our issues: they may reason that they're better off just waiting for adjudication by the 3rd branch of government, as this case, or the perry case, or the massachusetts doma case have exemplified.

    i believe that ultimately, it's necessary to pursue all options: judiciary means, legislative action, executive leadership. but some may disagree.

    the end of our struggle is in sight. it's a big if, but if these 3 cases eventually are effected nationally, then the only other major law that most of the community will be trying to pass is enda. (and even that my not be ultimately necessary if, through one of the cases mentioned above, lgbt folks are deemed worthy of "suspect class status".)

    this is great news. i hope it sticks. kudos to the log cabin republicans.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Sep 9, 2010 10:47:25 PM

  16. Can we please get Ari in to explain what this means as a whole? How does this effect legislation in the Senate. What is the timeframe like for this getting kicked up to the SC?

    My thoughts:

    I think it would be great if more of these decisions didn't come from the 9th circuit (or Mass). We need more judges willing to stand up in other parts of the country that aren't seen as liberal land for those opposed to rights to start recognizing that times are changing.

    Nice to see the Log Cabin Republicans doing this. This, in a way, seems like something obvious for them to be doing since Conservatives are more pro-war. I hope this silences some voices of dissent in congress and that Harry Reid starts pushing this stuff through.

    Also, between the former exec. directors comments on Melhman yesterday and this decision, this is probably the best GAY week the LCR has had in a while. bravo. Hopefully they can really start fighting for our rights now.

    Posted by: Joe | Sep 9, 2010 10:52:34 PM

  17. Maybe there's hope for America after all!

    Posted by: Dawnell_do | Sep 9, 2010 10:55:10 PM

  18. Seems like the activist community should argue in the courst for enda. In my opinion, that's the most important issue. And with the last two victories, the stage may be set for the court to grant us protected status nationally. But it's doubtful that hrc or the others will take time away from their black tie evenings to do anything constructive.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Sep 9, 2010 11:22:04 PM

  19. Please Hillary run for POTUS in 2012 because I just can't vote again for Obama.... the do nothing for rights president.

    Posted by: miKem | Sep 9, 2010 11:39:49 PM

  20. That only took fucking forever. And the best part is it's not over yet, whee!


    Posted by: X | Sep 10, 2010 12:05:53 AM

  21. ratbastard, or grabbinnewscum...which one are you tonight cracker face faggot?

    Posted by: moshi | Sep 10, 2010 12:13:07 AM

  22. Nicholson is one butch dude. Now, jurisdiction is an interesting thing here. Will the military simply ignore the ruling? This is an LCR fund raising move, but what the hey...

    Posted by: anon | Sep 10, 2010 12:20:08 AM

  23. MikeM: Let me remind you Hillary had the exact same positions as Obama on gay issues during the campaign, anti marriage equality, she's not the answer. We need a new candidate who will clearly support full equality for us. I will no longer vote for anything less.

    Posted by: Ken | Sep 10, 2010 12:21:09 AM

  24. If they appeal, and they will, is there ANYONE left who is going to try to defend Obama's bigotry? And if you have doubts they will appeal, keep in mind that they weren't above playing dirty the first time around:

    " the Justice Department vigorously defended “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ and even tried to undercut the case with a technical legal challenge over whether the named plaintiffs were dues-paying members of the organization that filed the lawsuit: the Log Cabin Republicans."

    Fucking Assholes.

    Posted by: gaylib | Sep 10, 2010 12:24:12 AM

  25. I'm happy with this news; I hope it goes all the way with no upheld appeal. I'm concerned though that there could be an increase in soldier-soldier hate crimes. Anybody seen Solder's Girl where the guy is dating a transsexual and one of his supposed army buddies finds out and kills him while he sleep? Supposedly a true story, sad stuff... still, can't live in fear, but... proactive prevention is also better than reactive funerals and heartache to later make integration standards. I guess I really feel like there will be some military folks who may have very violent reactions if it's ever fully repealed.. no one should have to walk on those land mines on the road to equality.

    Posted by: S | Sep 10, 2010 12:26:54 AM

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