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Judge declares U.S. military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy openly banning gay service members unconstitutional [Updated]

A federal judge in Riverside declared the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional Thursday, saying the “don't ask, don't tell” policy violates the 1st Amendment rights of lesbians and gay men.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the policy banning gays did not preserve military readiness, contrary to what many supporters have argued, saying evidence shows that the policy in fact had a “direct and deleterious effect’’ on the military.

Phillips said she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the policy. However, the U.S. Department of Justice, which defended “don’t ask, don’t tell” during a two-week trial in Riverside, will have an opportunity to appeal that decision.

The ruling comes just over a month after a federal judge in San Francisco tossed out California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, providing back-to-back victories for gay rights advocates seeking policy changes in the courts that have eluded them in Congress and at the ballot box. The case was filed by the Log Cabin Republicans, the largest political organization for gays in the GOP, in 2004.

[Updated at 6:30 p.m.: "As an American, a veteran and an Army reserve officer, I am proud the court ruled that the arcane ‘don't ask, don't tell’ statute violates the Constitution,” said R.Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans & Liberty Education Fund. “Today, the ruling is not just a win for Log Cabin Republican service members, but all American service members."]

The ruling is expected to intensify political pressure in Washington to act on legislation to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell," which remains stalled in the Senate despite support from President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership.

President Obama has called the ban a threat to national security, and the U.S. House in May passed legislation to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” if an ongoing Pentagon study determines the military can adapt to the change without harming defense readiness.

Despite Obama’s criticism of the policy, the Justice Department vigorously defended “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ and even tried to undercut the case with a technical legal challenge over whether the named plaintiffs were dues-paying members of the organization that filed the lawsuit: the Log Cabin Republicans.

-- Phil Willon in Riverside County

Comments () | Archives (95)

The tide is turning for equal rights and protections for all citizens of America. Bigotry and discrimination against any people has never been supported by our constitution. Get on the right side of equality before it's too late.

I'm almost a full human being!!!

Since we can't count on vote-pandering legislators to stand up for the Constitution, I guess we need judges to do it for us. Cue the outraged howls about "activist" judges from neocons, Fundamentalists and other bigots. Never mind they'd kiss the robe of any "activist" judge who overturned Roe v Wade or the Massachusetts gay marriage law.

Boy, this ruling took long enough to get. It had never entered my mind that it was unconstitutional-Duh!!! I am surprised that I had not thought that through. Anyway, I am glad to have this ruling. It makes good sense, actually.



This is interesting. I am a homosexual who also happens to be republican. With all the talk about "Don't ask don't tell" I can't help but think of the corporations like the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and other male dominated sports who have their own policy of don't ask don't tell. I know of a well known sports figure who, if he were to reveal his secret, with good reason he would jump out a window.

Of course I support the rights of homosexuals but some of the rights that we fight for are done with such a "To hell with you" attitude that the "Log Cabin" and the so-called "gay agenda" are fortunate that I was not the federal judge who made this ruling because I could see the law clearly the other way.

What part of "equal protection under the law" do reslugliKLANS not understand? Or should I say, refuse to accept?

How about letting the Supreme Court settle this issue? I would prefer the people vote on a national referendum to settle it but I seriously doubt the powers that be would go for that - especially since the supporters of gay rights would probably lose. By the way, if gays and lesbians have so called rights where are they written down as such? Marriage has always been defined as between one man and one women. When were the rules changed on this? Oh yeah, where can I find the rule set for lesbians and homosexuals in the law? I though rights were conferred by God to all men and women. Where does it say to include gays and lesbians? Just asking.

thank god. the best news that has been published in years. brought a shiver to my spine of feeling there was something bigger than me in this world. this has not happened since i was a child filled with optimism about how great this world was.

DADT is even more absurd now that many states allow same-sex marriage. I imagine this is how the conversation would go: "Hey Joe, are you married?" "Maybe, and if I were, I couldn't tell you whom I am married to."

If ppl r gay who cares if they want to be openly gay and join the military let them as long as they dont over step any lines they should be given every right has a str8 man or woman

It is a matter of time before the US Government quits fighting something that is so hard and difficult to defend when we are in two wars. these men and women pay their dues to society and they should be allowed to serve in the armed forces like everyone else!

momentary forward progress is progress. i am not in the military but it continues to baffle me that the people of our nation don't mind asking troops to put their lives on the line for them yet feel as if they have a right to keep those same troops and defenders of our nation in a box. their homosexuality is a non-issue in our national defense. our defenders are a part of the fiber of our nation, and the sacrifices they make are endless. how dare you hold them back when what they do is for your freedom? wake up and open your mind. we owe them so much more in return.

Attorney General Holder, please to the good and decent thing and do NOT appeal this decision.

There's no good reason to do anything to keep "DADT" alive.

No one should be denied the right to serve their country in the military simply because they were born lesbian or gay. And LGBT people serving in the military should NOT have to keep the truth about themselves a secret on pain of immediately being drummed out of the service.

It's time for the Pentagon to grow up about this and let justice prevail.

Another great win for homosexuals in this country!

And I did some research on the Log Cabin Republicans. They are basically conservative on everything except homosexual rights issues. Interesting...

Can hardly wait for the 'religious' zealots to start spewing rhetoric to moan and groan about this ruling. How many times is this going to court? If it's like prop 8, it will be a very long, bumpy ride - all based on a book of which nothing can be proven

Beautiful justice. No more bigotry!

This is excellent, awesome news. I'm so glad to see some motion on this, some kind of forward activity. This just really makes my night! Most especially the 'cease and desist' that was included in the ruling - I wish the President had implemented that months ago!

cooper should be kicked out of the reserves

Oh no! It's the GAY AGENDA! GI Joe will have to cover up his little wee wee in the showers now.

America - what a retarded country.

How many countries around the world have had Gays serving their country? How many countries have same-sex marriage?

No wonder America is losing on all fronts around the world.

I am frankly puzzled by the Log Cabin Republicans, but I congratulate them on this early victory and thank them for their hard work in procuring it.

What? It took over ten years to make this determination? C'mon.... What in the heck is our legal system worth?

The Marine Major said it best....."You don't fight and die in the trenches for home and country. You fight and die for the men next to you." Until we can change that fact (which will take a lot of social change), putting gays in those trenches will cost lives. It just ain't worth it.

This is interesting. I am a homoseual and a republican. With all the talk about "Don't ask don't tell" I can't help but think about many areas of society where there is no one saying a word. The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and other male dominated sports have a similar don't ask don't tell policy.
Of course I support the right of homosexuals, however, on this issue, I side with the military.
I know of a well known sports figure who, if his sexuality was revealed he would strongly consider jumping out a window. Just because the gay agenda has come out of the closet, that does not mean they should force the military out. The military like my sports figure aquaintance has a good reason to to be conservative on this issue.
I am getting a little tired of the in your face approach to gaining equal rights as those from the so-call gay agenda and in this case "Log Cabin" are doing.
These two groups are fortunate that I was not the judge ruling on this matter because I clearly see the rule another way.

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