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Judge imposes ban on 'don't ask', don't tell' policy on gays in the military [Updated]

Image: Gays in this military

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

Comments () | Archives (42)

I fully expect the Obama Justice Dept under AG Eric Holder to delay the appeal until after the November mid-term elections, but if they launch only a half-hearted, semi-serious legal challenge then it will cause further political damage to his already embattled administration.

None of the states that have "legalized" gay marriage (for example) have done so by a popular vote of the people, but rather by legislative or judicial fiat. Even in traditionally liberal states, voters are not really sympathetic to the radical gay agenda.

I sure hope they don't tell very much - I mean eeeeew

Absolutely ridiculous. Talk about activist judges.

I can't believe this is still an issue in the US... Bible-thumpers need to lighten up.

Is the same thing going to happen when a judge overturned the ban on same sex marraige?

You do what you think. You are what you do. When you always think like a Criminal? You must be one.

If you always listen to Criminal Training Music, you will usually do what you think about.

Behavior is Learned. You're Brain can be trained to think and do anything.

So, does this mean that the military goes back to the old way of We Will Ask and You Must Tell? DADT banned this. Without a new law/rule enacted, it would seem that this is a step in the wrong direction for gay rights.

I am not a homosexual...but even if I were, my sex life is MY business and NO ONE ELSES. Don't flaunt it, don't demand special rights to conduct it (I don't) and we will all get along just fine...in or out of the military. Regardless of sexual orientation, a PERSON has decided to potentially DIE for MY freedom. God bless that person. His/her sins are not mine (or yours) to deliberate.

So the courts run the US military now????

So here's my thing. I'm a US Navy veteran of Desert Storm/Desert Shield. I did not then, nor do I now, have any problem serving alongside a homosexual in peace or wartime.


We currently have mixed-sex crews on nearly all military installations, including Navy ships (which I mention since that is what my perspective is based on). In those environments, there are no co-ed berthing compartments (bedrooms to you civilians) or dormitories; different sexes are kept separate.

Identically, I would be strongly opposed to having homosexuals and heterosexuals living together in the same dorms or berthing compartments. I see these situations as being absolutely analogous; heterosexual men and women are not allowed to be housed together in the same space, because they do have to shower and change clothes... Having two categories of people that are potentially attracted to each other in the same housing space is a bad idea.

So, again, from my perspective, all that needs to happen is to have separate housing established based on sex (already in place) and sexual preference (needs to happen). Other than that, homosexuals can take bullets just as well as heterosexuals.

Thank you, Judge Phillips. Too many have suffered because of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. To many gays, lesbians, transgender, bisexual people, too many teens, too many children, too many families -- all of us.

I wonder, with all due respect, if this Federal Judge has ever served time in the military? Perhaps her opinion on 'Don't ask, don't tell' would be different if she saw the complete breakdown in unit cohesion and trust that can occur when soldiers worry about same-gender harassment.

I have seen the problem mixed male and female units can cause as soldiers start to act differently depending who is around. This is the same type of situation that occurs with mixed-orientation units. It is nothing against women, men, gays, or lesbians, it is strictly about any type of person being more focused on doing their job when there is not this varying social dynamic happening around them. It does not seem prudent to put peoples lives in danger at the expense of perceived equality.

just let everyone do what they,,,want if they wanna drop the soap in the shower owell

I am a retired US Army LTC who was drafted in July, 1969. I served three years active and 25 years in the National Guard and Army Reserves. I never had problems with gay military members. I had problems with the straight military members. I have no problems with gay people serving openly in the military . The military survived allowing females into the military. I am sure open gays will be accepted in the military. Most military people, gay or straight, are very conservative and all love their country. Having gay and straight live in separate living quarters will not work. What concerns me are the civilian openly gay people forcing their personal agendas and ideas on the rest of society and the military. I do not and never wanted to be forced to accept an idea. The military is different from the civilian side of the world. Politicians need to accept this fact and let the military handle this issue.

This don't-ask-don't-tell trial had the same scenario as the recent federal gay marriage trial in California, in that the side trying to uphold the discriminatory policy chose not to call witnesses in court and basically not to put on a case at all. They apparently thought just by saying "It's the law" or "Oh, it's always been this way", that that justifies discrimination.

The courts are telling these people in no uncertain terms that if you want to win a case you better have some facts and you better call some witnesses to back up your facts.

The U.S. military supporters of don't ask don't tell may want to ask themselves why the militaries of nearly every other industrialized western nation, plus many others, have gays serving openly in their militaries without any breakdowns of "unit cohesion" or any other difficulties.

What exactly is it about U.S. soldiers that makes them unable to cope with what is not a problem for every western country's soldiers? Are U.S. soldiers such wusses???

I knew it would come from a California judge. lolllllllllll, the space nation

@Jake - By your reasoning, it was A-OK to house African American servicemen separately from Causians at a time when segregation and prejudice were the norm... in the interest of unit cohesion and trust, of course. Please! Now that segregation and prejudice have subsided for the African American, you think it's OK to apply it to the homosexual? I call a foul in logic! If anything, desegregation in the military has proven that men and women can learn to rely on one another when it counts - no matter what differences exist, even differences that run as deep as prejudice... which is all this is, by the way.

It might also be noteworthy that, contrary to what appears to be popular belief, homosexuals are not uncontrollable sexual machines incapable of making choices to serve more than their libido... any more than heterosexuals are. Nothing about the homosexual indicates that, as a soldier, he/she will serve sexual desire before country.

So allow them to serve openly, protect them as you did African Americans until they were deemed "safe." Educate, reprimand, create and enforce rules and consequences for unacceptable/antagonistic behavior (on both sides of the gay fence), and get over it already.

Its about time the Federal courts started to enforce the constitution. Just like the fall of the Jim Crow laws the Federal court had to take charge. The time has come to end the Gay Jim Crow Laws.

1) Sheer madness - so we have a judge, a single judge, whose ruling could significantly worsen the anywat difficult life of 1.5 million servicemen and women and adversely affect the defence of our country - what a mockery -
2) Nothin will happen until the November election, the DOJ being instructed by Obama not to scare away his hypothetical gay constituency by fighting this absurd ruling -
... unconsequential tactic, since anyway this case, like all other gay-related cases will arrive to SCOTUS, which will bounce them back to the court where they belong - voters - bye-bye -

To all of you who are complaining that this is coming from a judge (you know "activist judges" and all that): this is why we have a judicial system, to make sure our freedoms are protected. It is flatly unconstitutional to deny rights to a group of people based on some defining characteristic. I don't care if you don't like gay people and if you feel uncomfortable being in your underwear around a gay soldier. It doesn't matter. It's a free country. And, that means you don't get to tell other people what they can and can't do based on your personal discomforts whether they be based in religion or otherwise. Sorry, but that's how a free country works...and the judges are here to protect that. Even the parts you don't like.

My husband is a 37 year career army officer presently serving in Afghanistan. (4th deployment to a war zone in 12 years - Bosnia before Iraq or Afghanistan) Does anyone really think he does not know he has served with gay/lesbian soldiers throughout his career? Absolutely irrelevant! It's nothing but a wedge issue for politicians.

What great news. Really, it was discrimination, even if Don't Ask--Don't Tell was progress from where we were before it. Now, it seems draconian. Thank goodness for progress in society and the perseverence of the human spirit. Perhaps one day our great grandkids will know a world where war, genocide and the like are super rare, and peace is the norm.

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