Log Cabin calls for immediate end to DADT, says keeping policy in place during repeal is ‘absurd’

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Gay rights advocates on Monday filed a challenge to a request by the Obama administration to keep the repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in place while the Pentagon prepares for an end to the ban on allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

In a brief filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, lawyers for gay political group Log Cabin Republicans said keeping the policy in place was “absurd.”

At issue is the constitutionality of Congress allowing the policy to stay in effect to give the Pentagon time to train troops and take other steps outlined in December when lawmakers repealed the 1993 law that put the ban in place. Under the new policy, the restrictions remain until the Pentagon certifies that the change won’t damage combat readiness.

The repeal came several months after a federal district judge issued an injunction barring enforcement of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” declaring in September that the policy was unconstitutional.

The Obama administration request to keep the policy in place was made in its brief challenging the injunction. Dan Woods, who is representing the Log Cabin Republicans, replied in the brief filed Monday.

“Even though a judge found this to be unconstitutional and the administration is not disagreeing with that, they are still investigating and able to discharge people,” he said.

Earlier this year, the administration said it would no longer defend the 1996 federal law that prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages.

President Barack Obama had concluded that any law that treats gay people differently is unconstitutional unless it serves a compelling governmental interest, Attorney General Eric Holder said when discussing the administration’s reasoning for that decision.

—  John Wright

Court refuses to suspend lawsuit challenging DADT

LISA LEFF  |  Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has denied the government’s request to suspend a lawsuit challenging the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued an order Friday, Jan. 28 requiring the Department of Justice to file papers by Feb. 25 arguing why the court should overturn a Southern California trial judge who declared the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy unconstitutional.

Government lawyers asked the 9th Circuit earlier this month to set aside the case because the Pentagon was moving quickly to satisfy the steps Congress outlined last month when it voted to allow the ban’s repeal. A Justice Department spokeswoman said it had no comment Saturday.

The appeals court did not explain in its order why it rejected the request. In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said he expected to finalize the repeal and allow openly gay Americans to join the armed forces before the end of the year.

On Friday, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that the training of officers and troops the Pentagon has said is a predicate to full repeal would begin in February.

The Log Cabin Republicans, the gay political group whose lawsuit challenging “don’t ask, don’t tell” persuaded District Court Judge Virginia Phillips in September to enjoin the military from enforcing the policy, had opposed the government’s effort to put the case on hold.

R. Clarke Cooper, the group’s president, said Saturday that while he thinks the Pentagon’s efforts are sincere, the case should proceed as long as gay servicemembers still can be discharged.

“We said all along to the government we would drop our case if they would cease all discharges and remove all barriers to open service,” Cooper said.

Cooper, an Army reserve officer, said he knew of at least one service member facing a discharge hearing next month, even as the Pentagon moves forward with its training plan.

“We are not questioning the implementation process. We recognize the need for a deliberative process for implementing proper training materials and guidances for leadership,” he said. “But when you have a servicemember going before a discharge panel, this is kind of a ‘left hand-right hand’ thing that is happening.”

—  John Wright

Argentina legalizes gay marriage

Argentinian president supports bill that passed the Senate

Rex Wockner  |  Wockner News Service wockner@panix.com

PROTESTING THE INEVITABLE | Members of Catholic groups protest outside Argentina’s Congress against a same-sex marriage bill in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, July 13. On Thursday, July 15, senators voted to pass the measure, making Argentina the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. (Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press)

Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in the early morning hours of Thursday July 15, with a 33-27 vote in the Senate, with three abstentions. The vote came at 4:05 a.m.

The Chamber of Deputies had approved the bill in May, and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner strongly supports it.

“The bill has passed. It is law. The executive power will be notified,” the Senate president said as the vote was displayed on an electronic board in the chamber.

The debate lasted nearly 15 hours.

“The result sparked euphoria among the [LGBT] activists who, despite the polar wave that grips the city, held a vigil in the Plaza of the Two Congresses,” said Buenos Aires’ Clarín newspaper after the vote.

The website of Argentina’s main gay political group, la Federación Argentina LGBT, was kicked off the Internet and replaced with a “Bandwidth Limit Exceeded” notice.

Evan Wolfson, head of the U.S. group Freedom to Marry, applauded the vote. “Today’s historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come, as 12 countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas