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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)

No judge in any state can change anything with the military. They cant over rule the Dovernment and thats what you would have to do. There is still a no ask no tell polocy with the military and there still will be in a month from now. Just look up how the military works.

What a victory!!!!!

One by one, the bastions of homophobia, enshrined in laws and "propositions," are toppling in America. It does not matter what an appeals court or the Supreme Court ultimately decides. Gay rights are now on solid ground and can never be turned back.

I was reading this morning that it was women's service in the military and factories during WWI that really helped pass the 19th Amendment. Hopefully the very visible service of gays in the military will open some people's eyes to the equality of all men and women.

...the lies are almost done now there is nothing to stop the truth of existence from being itself into a reality -

I have no problems with gays in the military. I just don't want to be sleeping with them. As a heterosexual, I like women. There is a reason men and women aree not sharing the same barracks or rooms. The same should be true for gays.

Remember that ban on don't ask don't tell has to be upheld by the Supreme Court.

Isn't the alleged "swing vote" Justic Kennedy? What does he think about gays? He voted to let corporations give as much money as possible to elections, which is a Republican wet dream. I'd be surprised if gays will win this at the Supreme Court level.

As an aside, isn't Secretary of Defense Gates retiring? He used every stupid excuse to keep gays out of the military. For example, he used polls of the enlisted men asking "would you like to take a shower with gays or use the bathroom with them?"

Good riddance to the little bastard. He's either a bisexual who's in denial, or a school-yard bully who never grew up.

Is it just me, or are California judges simply on a mission to change the AMERICAN WAY? I don't know about legislating from the bench, but I think democracy had something to say about America's majority sets policy, if their changing that foundation, there would not be one elected official safe in elected office, what is going on here? Somebody please explain it to me.

I wonder how many years of combat Virginia has under her belt?

That's what I thought...
More Leftists who never went to war telling those of us who go to war what to do.

We Marines don't want to have to worry about bending over in the shower and/or having some "mary" staring at our plumbing.

I wish the Libs would make up their minds...during the Viet Nam war, they couldn't burn their draft cards quick enough and now they wanna enlist?

If homosexuals wanna enlist in the "military", they can always join the Peace Corps or the Salvation Army.

Leviticus 18:22...
You can either "clean up your act now" or face the consequences later!


Whooda thunk this would come out of Riverside? Way to go!


Maybe we can start declaring these heros for what they are, and have been all along: Americans. just like the rest of us. Maybe we can just get over it and move on. [why do i hear the right wing's homophobes grinDing their 95 year old teeth?]

May America last longer than those donasaurs!

Obama opposed "don't ask don't tell" but his justice dept defended it because he will defend the law while trying to change it

too bad california's governor and atty gen don't do their jobs as well

Now you can understand why we don't want Jerry Brown and his sidekick Gavin Newsom in Sactown.

Another significant and long-overdue step toward full equality for all Americans.

Its about time a federal judge put aside political agendas to stand up for equal constitutional rights.

If I was in the military and I was in Afghanistan and I was trying not to get blown up or shot or kidnapped or lost I'm sure I'd be really bothered if the dude next to me looked at my butt. Scary.

Yet another fail from the liberal progressive regime. Wasn't enough to overturn voters, what's next? Ya Volt!!

All our heroic, brave soldiers stand united to defend the most free country in the modern world,e and yet, some soldiers are not free enough to express who they truly are for fear of some dictatorial repercussions? I no longer think it is gay people many fear in the military. It something else deep within their own psyche which gay people remind them of.

As much as I want to support the Obama Administration, if his Justice Department decides to appeal this decision, rather than let it become the law of the land, I will have a lot of difficulty casting a ballot for President Obama in 2012. It is time the fierce advocate for LGBT equality do the right thing, rather than just talk the talk.

Wasn't it Martin Luther King, Jr. who said that arc of history moves toward justice. It's just so damn slow. Linguists, badly needed in the military, are being tossed out because of their love life? This is criminally insane and I salute the judge.

Civil Rights moved along way with this ruling. We are all: religions, races, genders and orientation, a bit safer.
God in His infinite wisdom and mercy loves the light!

"There is nothing so powerful as an idea who's time has come"
Victor Hugo

it took long enough,however the homophobic community hair is on fire,the christian evangelist will explode with more of the feigned indignation over this issue,when all they've gotta do is mind their own business & quit their speculation

I am 100% against gay/lesbian marriages. Marriage is sacred & should not be tainted

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