Last week, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was unconstitutional because it violated gay service members’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to remain silent about their sexual orientation. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision temporarily on hold.
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was enacted during the presidency of Bill Clinton and said that military commanders could not ask about a service member’s sexual orientation, but if a gay service member volunteered that information to their commander, they could be discharged from military service. The Justice Department has argued that it needs more time to effectively and safely allow gays to serve openly in the military without discrimination and while upholding morale and national security.
The Log Cabin Republicans brought a lawsuit against the military challenging the policy in 2004. They have said that the military has overblown concerns about what will happen if the policy is lifted. They called the recent decision a minor setback. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges have given the Log Cabin Republicans until Monday to file a response. After they review the response, the judges will decide either to let Judge Phillips’ decision stand for now, or they will continue the temporary hold until they hear and make a decision of the government’s appeal of the ruling.
Appeals court tells US military to keep in place ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy for now (Los Angeles Times)