No delay for 'don't ask, don't tell' ruling, so Pentagon takes gays - for now
A federal judge refuses to suspend last week's ruling that the Pentagon must stop enforcement of 'don't ask, don't tell.' So the Pentagon says it will comply and accept openly gay recruits. But it cautions that the ruling is being appealed.
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“It does not order the military to redesign its barracks, to retool its pay scales, [or] to re-ordain its chaplains,” Mr. Woods said. “The court’s injunction requires only one thing: to cease investigating and discharging honorable, patriotic, brave fighting men and women for reasons unrelated to their performance and military ability.”Skip to next paragraph
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“The president believes that it is unjust, discriminatory, and that it harms our national security,” Mr. Gibbs said. But he added that the administration wants to establish a process for an orderly transition.
The case, Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, puts the Obama administration in a difficult position of having to defend a law that it is simultaneously trying to repeal.
Obama in a tough spot
The don’t ask, don’t tell policy is rooted in a 1993 statute passed by Congress. The administration is obligated to defend the nation’s laws from constitutional challenges, but it also has the authority to seek to amend or repeal those same laws.
Both the president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have expressed their view that the don’t ask, don’t tell policy should be repealed. But they say the change should take place gradually.
A defense department review is underway with a final report and recommendations due Dec. 1. An effort in Congress to repeal the measure passed the House of Representatives, but bogged down recently in the Senate.
Gibbs said the administration will seek to revive Senate consideration of the measure later this year. Even that would not lead to immediate repeal.
The proposed legislation provides that the policy will remain in effect until new policies and regulations have been drawn up at the Defense Department, and administration officials have certified that the new policies and regulations will not hurt military effectiveness or readiness.
The Ninth Circuit has already docketed the government’s full appeal of Phillips’s ruling and injunction. The opening brief is due in late January, with the deadline for the response in late February.
The don’t ask, don’t tell policy was passed by Congress 17 years ago during the presidency of Bill Clinton. The law permits gays and lesbians to serve in the military provided they keep their sexual orientation private. Under the statute, any public disclosure may lead to dismissal.
Roughly 13,500 gay or lesbian service members have been discharged under the policy.