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Is the Defense Dept. in Contempt of Court for Turning Away Gay Navy Vet Who Wanted to Reenlist Yesterday?

As you probably know, on Tuesday Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction barring enforcement of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Lopez The NYT reported that a service member discharged under the policy attempted to reenlist yesterday:

With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.

But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.

“I like the civilian world, but I miss it,” Mr. Lopez said of the military, as he arrived with a worker for Get Equal, a gay rights advocacy group. “I feel lost without it.”

(image melanie grizzel/nyt)

Now, Dan Woods, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the Log Cabin case, has written a letter to lead DOJ attorney Paul Freeborne citing the article and noting that this may place the Defense Dept. in contempt of court.

A copy of the letter (via LGBT POV) from Woods, AFTER THE JUMP...

Woods asks Freeborne to disclose "what steps the government has taken to communicate the terms and requirements of the Court's order to military personnel, including field commanders and military recruiting offices..."

According to AFP, the Pentagon had been issued no guidance as of early Thursday afternoon.

The Pentagon said Thursday it had not yet issued guidance to commanders on whether to follow a district court order to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

"We give a lot of authority and responsibility to our commanders to make the best decisions possible," said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman. "We anticipate commanders will use good judgment."

But he declined to confirm whether the military would obey US District Judge Virginia Phillips' injunction, issued on Tuesday, preventing US authorities from enforcing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which requires gay and lesbian troops to keep quiet about their sexuality or face being discharged.

"I wouldn't say it's business as usual. Last week, we didn't have a court injunction, this week we do," Lapan said. "But there's no real moratorium."

He acknowledged that there nonetheless remained a "de facto" moratorium because of the judge's order.

A copy of the letter (via LGBT POV) from Woods, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. Good for Mr. Lopez, and I hope he gets his wish to serve again. And I hope the Military gets their heads handed to them on a platter for ignoring the injuction.

    Posted by: adamblast | Oct 14, 2010 3:13:25 PM

  2. " make the best decisions possible..."

    You idiot....the best decision and only decision is to obey the law. The Rule of Law should be upheld by a Democratic Administration unless they are taking a page out of the Bush handbook for trampling habeus corpus, kidnapping and calling it "Extraordinary Rendition" not to mention the torture episodes.
    Obey the Law you fascists.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Oct 14, 2010 3:21:06 PM

  3. In order to take this matter to court you must exhaust all administrative avenues first, which could get complicated.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 14, 2010 3:59:39 PM

  4. Great that Get Equal went with him... HRC was busy giving petitions to Mormons, what a waste of time

    Posted by: John Normile | Oct 14, 2010 4:13:58 PM

  5. If the administration does not appeal the ruling, then it will encourage future right-wing administrations to not defend any other laws that they happen to disagree with- hate crimes, ENDA, health care, whatever- that might be challenged in court. Don't like a law? Have someone file suit and don't defend it. People need to start looking at the big picture.

    Posted by: Ian | Oct 14, 2010 4:38:35 PM

  6. Let the guy back in - NOW! DAMMIT what is wrong with this country????

    Posted by: OS2GuyOS2Guy | Oct 14, 2010 5:10:26 PM

  7. Actually, because this guy is prior service, DoD might be in the right. Being discharged under DADT gives you a RE-4 code -- a non-waiverable condition. A recruiter can't do anything about that. Having your RE code changed requires petitioning the Discharge Review Board to show that your code shouldn't apply anymore. That's something else that will have to be addressed in the repeal, but it's something that there currently isn't a streamlined process for, and definitely not something a recruiter has any authority over.

    Posted by: Casey | Oct 14, 2010 5:38:53 PM

  8. If your discharge is a for a reason now known to have been unconstitutional, there should be no administrative barrier to re-enlistment. In fact, the discharges themselves should be void.

    Posted by: Randy | Oct 14, 2010 11:04:06 PM

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