Judge imposes ban on 'don't ask', don't tell' policy on gays in the military [Updated]
A federal judge in Riverside, who last month struck down the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, on Tuesday imposed an injunction ordering federal officials not to enforce the controversial policy on gays in the military.
The federal government has 60 days to appeal, but Justice Department attorneys have not said whether they will.
"Defendants United States of America and the Secretary of Defense 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, or pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 654 or its implementing regulations, on or prior to the date of this Judgment," U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips wrote.
In September, Phillips said the policy banning gays did not preserve military readiness, contrary to what many supporters have argued, and that evidence shows that the policy in fact had a "direct and deleterious effect" on the military. She also found that "don't ask, don't tell" violated the 1st Amendment.
Phillips said at the time that she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the policy.
The case was filed by the Log Cabin Republicans, the largest political organization for gays in the GOP, in 2004.
[Updated at 1:14 p.m.: During the trial, Justice Department attorney Paul G. Freeborne argued that Congress -- not a federal court -- should have the authority and the responsibility to enact military policy. The sole evidence presented by the Justice Department was the legislative history of the ban, which government lawyers argued showed that the policy was properly adopted by Congress through a deliberative and reasoned political process. No witnesses were called.
Conversely, attorneys for the Log Cabin Republicans called to the stand several decorated military officers discharged for their sexual orientation, including Air Force Maj. Michael Almy. Almy, deployed three times to Iraq, said his commanding officer attempted to force him to admit he was a homosexual after another service member, without permission, searched Almy's private e-mail and found a message discussing homosexual conduct. After fighting his dismissal for 16 months, Almy agreed to accept an honorable discharge.]
-- Phil Willon and Shelby Grad
Photo: A demostration in Washington last year. Credit: Associated Press