Justice Department urges continuation of military gay ban
The Department of Justice is urging a federal judge to allow the US military to continue enforcing its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military, following the judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.
Earlier this month, US District Judge Virginia Phillips sided with the Log Cabin Republicans in their challenge to “don’t ask,” ruling the 17-year-old Clinton-era law unconstitutional. Last week, the Log Cabin Republicans asked Phillips for an injunction ordering the military to stop enforcing the law.
Justice Department lawyers argued that an immediate cessation to “don’t ask” would throw military policy on gays into chaos.
“Entering an injunction with immediate effect would frustrate the ability of the Department of Defense to develop necessary policies, regulations, and training and guidance to accommodate a change in the DADT law and policy,” the Justice Department stated.
Lawyers for the federal government also argued that the injunction would “prohibit the consideration of similar challenges in other courts.”
Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress notes that it’s “interesting that the government doesn’t defend the policy, and just questions the scope” of the Log Cabin Republicans’ demands.
He also highlights that the government is challenging the proposed injunction, and not the judge’s ruling that “don’t ask” is unconstitutional. “This is merely the injunction. Once the judge enters her judgment, the crucial test will be whether the government decides to appeal her ruling.”
The US House of Representatives voted in May to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which forces gay service members to conceal their sexual orientation under threat of expulsion. A similar bill to repeal “don’t ask” failed in the Senate this week, when a handful of Democratic Senators joined Republicans in opposing the move.
President Obama has repeatedly said he wants to repeal the policy, but has been criticized by gay-rights activists for what they see as foot-dragging on the issue.
Earlier this year, senior military leaders including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates voiced their support for repealing the gay ban, but made their support contingent on a Pentagon review of the policy, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.