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April-11-96

Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Upheld By Appeals Court

On Friday (4-5), the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays in the military instituted by the Clinton administration. The 9-4 decision said that courts "were not created to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus." The ruling upheld a lower court ruling against former Navy Lt. Paul Thomasson who had been dismissed last June after stating "I am gay" in a letter to his commanding admiral. Thomasson's lawyers say they will likely appeal the decision.

Judge Kenneth K. Hall wrote in a dissenting opinion that Thomasson's statement was "nothing more than an expression of a state of mind" and therefore not grounds for dismissal. The three other dissenting judges agreed with Thomasson's assertion that the policy is unconstitutional because it equates the words "I am gay" with illegal sexual acts. Other courts have ruled that the policy is unconstitutional and have blocked the discharge of homosexuals.

Media Resources: The New York Times - April 10, 1996