Log Cabin Republicans Win Court Victory in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Six years after initially filing its case, Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) won a legal victory in September when US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the US military’s ban on openly gay service members, was unconstitutional.

The victory expanded on October 12 when Phillips issued a worldwide injunction requiring the military “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act.’”

LCR Deputy Executive Director Christian Berle said, “After finding in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell violates service members’ First and Fifth Amendment rights, a worldwide injunction was the only reasonable solution. These soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our Constitution. It is imperative that their constitutional freedoms be protected as well.

“This decision is also a victory for all who support a strong national defense. No longer will our military be compelled to discharge service members with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination. The United States is stronger because of this injunction, and Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have brought the case that made it possible.”

The case was filed in 2004, because, according to LCR then, “This country is now fighting two wars, and gay and lesbian members of our Armed Forces are serving their country honorably, and dying on the battlefield, even as the US military officially continues to bar them from service.”

LCR argued that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell violates a service member’s First Amendment right to free speech and Fifth Amendment right to due process. Phillips agreed.

Despite Phillips’s historic ruling, the ban may live on. The US Department of Justice on October 14 asked the Ninth US Circuit Court to Appeals to grant an emergency stay of Phillips’s decision to halt all discharges under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.

In another case important to the GLBT community, the Department appealed a federal judge’s ruling that a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.

The department asserted that it has “a long-standing practice of defending federal statutes when they are challenged in court, including by appealing adverse decisions of lower courts.”

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