District Court Rules Don't Ask, Don't Tell Unconstitutional
US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled yesterday that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) is unconstitutional on the basis that it violates both the first and fifth amendment rights of lesbian and gay service members. The ruling was in a case filed by the Log Cabin Republicans against the federal government in 2004. Within the next few weeks, Judge Phillips is expected to issue an injunction that would bar the federal government from enforcing DADT, but government lawyers have said Phillips lacks authority to issue such an injunction, according to the Associated Press.
In the ruling, Phillips wrote DADT "discriminates based on the content of the speech being regulated...It distinguishes between speech regarding sexual orientation, and inevitably, family relationships and daily activities, by and about gay and lesbian servicemembers, which is banned, and speech on those subjects by and about heterosexual servicemembers, which is permitted." She concluded, "the act's restrictions on speech not only are broader than reasonably necessary to protect the government's substantial interests, but also actually serve to impede military readiness and unit cohesion rather than further these goals," reported CNN.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) could appeal the ruling, but has not made a statement on the case. The Obama Administration is currently working to repeal DADT. The House of Representatives voted in May to add an amendment to a defense spending bill that would repeal it after a military review on the policy is completed in December.
The Pentagon began sending 400,000 surveys to members of the armed forces in July to gauge their opinions on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). The survey, which is being sent to 200,000 active duty troops and 200,000 reserve troops, is meant to examine the potential impact of the repeal. Results of the survey will be presented to President Obama in December, as part of a final report and implementation plan.
DADT was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member's sexual orientation, and also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops.
Media Resources: CNN 9/10/10; Associated Press 9/10/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/8/10