Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of California ordered the Department of Defense to suspend all investigations and discharges of lesbian and gay troops in the military under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.
The injunction comes one month after Phillips’ ruling in the case Log Cabin Republicans v the United States of America, in which she declared DADT to be an unconstitutional violation of the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.
Repealing DADT has been a top priority of civil rights groups, who have long considered the policy to be discriminatory and counterproductive. Repeal picked up steam this year when President Obama pressed for action in his 2010 State of the Union Address, saying: “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.”
However, despite support for repeal by high-ranking U.S. generals, the Senate blocked a vote in September on the Department of Defense Authorization bill, which included the legislation to repeal DADT.
Given the likelihood that the Department of Justice will appeal the injunction and send the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network urges servicemembers to “proceed safely” and to contact their hotline with any questions or concerns.
“The administration should comply with [Judge Phillips’] order and stop enforcing this unconstitutional, unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence. The President has said this law harms our national security and we believe it would be a mistake to appeal the decision. Each additional day that this unjust law remains in force is one more day the federal government is complicit in discrimination,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
The Department of Justice has 60 days to appeal the injunction.