A U.S. federal appeals court upheld the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in a ruling issued Friday. The ruling consolidated two separate appeals cases involving the Army’s Lt. Andrew Holmes and the Navy’s Lt. Richard Watson, both of whom were discharged from the military after disclosing their sexual orientation. Counsel for Holmes and Watson argued that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy infringed on their constitutional right to free speech. The court rejected this argument, claiming that the men were discharged based on their conduct, and not their speech.
Friday’s ruling reinforces the military’s right to discharge a service member “based on an inference of homosexual conduct from his admission of homosexual orientation, without corroborating evidence of conduct or intent.” According to the appeals court, persons who identify as lesbian, bisexual or gay will be assumed “guilty” of homosexual acts or intent to engage in homosexual acts unless they can prove otherwise.