BREAKING: Fed judge orders Obama Defense Department to stop enforcing DADT

Posted on 12 Oct 2010 at 4:44pm

UPDATE: Read between these lines – @KerryEleveld quoting Robert Gibbs:

“Obviously, there have been a number of court cases that have ruled in favor of plaintiffs in this case and the president will continue to work as hard he can to change the law that he believes is fundamentally unfair.”

Note from Louise: More press releases coming in (4pm EDT) and will be put up below the fold.

The fierce advocate finds himself painted into a LGBT equality corner three weeks before midterms by a federal judge. (The Advocate):

In a Tuesday ruling, U.S. district judge Virginia A. Phillips ordered the Defense Department to “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding” related to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

In her order Phillips did not specify when the injunction would become effective. Justice Department attorneys are expected to appeal the injunction to the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit.



The ruling:

So what’s it going to be, Mr. President, Mr. Commander-in-Chief? Is the gay community’s equality a political football on this issue or is removing a policy banning gays and lesbians from serving in the military going to happen on your watch, on your authority now?

The President, who is himself a constitutional scholar, has been handed the golden opportunity to end DADT once and for all. A federal judge has now ruled that the gay ban is unconstitutional, and he has ordered the federal government to stop the discharges immediately. The President now has the power – given to him by a federal judge – to do the right thing, to do what he promised, to side with the civil rights community. All he has to do is not appeal, and DADT is over.

It’s a no-brainer. Even for this administration that is loathe to do anything bold, loathe to be seen as responsible for anything even slightly “controversial.” Well, now they have their out. It’s the judge’s fault. President Obama can simply choose not to appeal the case, to respect the judge’s decision, and DADT is over. It’s history.

Or the President can direct his Department of Justice to oppose the judge’s order, to appeal the case, and to defend DADT – to defend bigotry, to go down in history on the same side as those who chose to defend discrimination against another class of Americans earlier in the 20th century.

Reactions…

SU:

“This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans. “While this is certainly news to be celebrated, we would also advise caution in advance of a potential stay from the Ninth Circuit. If the appellate court wishes to put itself on the right side of history, however, it will allow this sound and long-over due decision to remain in effect.”

The case that won the injunction, Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America, was originally filed in 2004. Just last month, and after a two-week trial in July, Judge Phillips issued her final ruling in the case, finding that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law was unconstitutional on first and fifth amendment grounds. She also indicated her intent to issue an injunction barring further discharges in light of that finding. A copy of the injunction can be found at www.ServicemembersUnited.org/injunction.

LCR:

Christian Berle, acting Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans

“After finding in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ violates servicemembers First and Fifth Amendment rights, a world-wide injunction was the only reasonable solution.  These soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our Constitution.  It is imperative that their constitutional freedoms be protected as well.  This decision is also a victory for all who support a strong national defense.  No longer will our military be compelled to discharge servicemembers with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination.  The United States is stronger because of this injunction, and Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have brought the case that made it possible.”

Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing Log Cabin Republicans

“We are extremely pleased with Judge Phillips’s decision granting an immediate and permanent injunction barring the US military from carrying out its ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.  The order represents a complete and total victory for Log Cabin Republicans and reaffirms the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians in the military who are fighting and dying for our country.”

HRC:


HRC Statement on Injunction Barring DADT Enforcement

Solmonese: “The administration should comply with her order and stop enforcing this unconstitutional, unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence”

WASHINGTON - Today, federal district judge Virginia Phillips, following on her July decision striking down the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, ordered the Department of Defense to immediately cease enforcement of the statute barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the Armed Forces.  Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:


“The administration should comply with her order and stop enforcing this unconstitutional, unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence. The President has said this law harms our national security and we believe it would be a mistake to appeal the decision.  Each additional day that this unjust law remains in force is one more day the federal government is complicit in discrimination.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

                    # # #

SLDN:



SLDN Statement on U.S. District Court Order to Suspend Investigations, Discharges Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”




WASHINGTON, D.C.
– Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), issued a statement today after U.S. district judge Virginia A. Phillips ordered the Defense Department to “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding” related to DADT.

Statement by SLDN Legal Director Aaron Tax:

“We applaud Judge Phillips for putting an immediate stop to all investigations and discharges under this unconstitutional law.  As explained by the judge, this order applies across the military.  This order bars the Department of Defense from enforcing or applying the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law against any person under its command.  We have clients under investigation and facing discharge right now.  We’ll be monitoring each case over the coming days.  This order will likely be appealed by the Justice Department and brought to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit where her decision may well be reversed.  The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress.  Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time.  Anyone in the armed forces with questions or concerns should call our hotline.”

“Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A journalists’ guide is available here.

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