The Supreme Court refused Friday to block enforcement of the military’s controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which forces gay, lesbian and trans-gender members of the military to hide their personal lives or face expulsion from the service.
The high court denied a request from the gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans to halt the policy while a federal appeals court makes a decision on the case.
Lawyers for the Obama administration urged the court not to get involved with the case at this point.
In September, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips declared the law unconstitutional.
“Defendants faced the burden at trial of showing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t tell’ Act was necessary to significantly further the Government’s important interests in military readiness and unit cohesion,” Phillips wrote in her ruling. “Defendants failed to meet that burden.”
In October, Phillips ordered an immediate suspension of the law.
After being suspended for eight days, US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Obama administration’s request that the policy continue to be enforced while an appeal of the case was considered.
With reinstatement of the policy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates “ordered that all dismissals under the 1993 law be decided by one of the four service secretaries in consultation with the military’s general counsel and Gates’ personnel chief,” according the Associated Press.
“The move puts the question of who can be dismissed from the service for being openly gay in the hands of just six people — all of them civilian political appointees who work for an administration that thinks the law is unjust,” the AP noted.
The 9th Circuit Court is expected to make a final ruling on the case in mid-2011.
Gates has urged Democratic lawmakers to pass a law to end the ban before Republicans take control of the House in 2011.
“I would like to see the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are,” Gates said while traveling between meetings in Australia Sunday.
But the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee has already hinted he will drop repeal from National Defense Authorization Act.
“Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, are in talks on stripping the proposed repeal and other controversial provisions from a broader defense bill, leaving the repeal with no legislative vehicle to carry it,” wrote The Wall Street Journal‘s Laura Meckler Monday.