Appeals court halts enforcement of DADT, but gay servicemembers warned to remain cautious

Posted on 06 Jul 2011 at 3:51pm

A federal appeals court has halted enforcement of “don’t ask don’t tell,” effective immediately.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous order today lifting a stay it had placed on an injunction handed down last year by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who declared the ban on open military service unconstitutional.

According to the appeals court’s order, DADT cannot be enforced unless and until the government gets a stay from either the 9th Circuit Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December, but repeal has not yet been certified by the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

“Today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is most welcomed,” Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “It’s the hope of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that this favorable ruling will not be challenged by the Defense Department. In fact, this whole matter could have been avoided had we had certification back in the spring. It’s time to get on with that important certification, end the DADT confusion for all service members, and put a final end to this misguided policy.”

Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, warned that despite today’s order, gay servicemembers should remain cautious about revealing their sexual orientation. “The issue remains in a state of flux, although guarded optimism is certainly warranted,” Nicholson said in a statement.

Although the appeals court lifted its stay of the injunction, it has not ruled on the merits of the case, Log Cabin Republicans vs. The United States. The court set arguments for Aug. 29.

In its order, the appeals court cited the Obama administration’s position that it’s unconstitutional to discriminate against gays, which was laid out in a court brief last week.

To read the appeals court’s order, go here.

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