Let’s hope this isn’t a lesson about the Pentagon’s backbone when it’s up against foreign theocrats.
Wednesday night, we learned that the Pentagon DADT study showed “minimal” impact from ending the ban on open service.
The domestic theocrats, who over the past year or so seem to have choreographed a number of very anti-gay leaks from the Pentagon, went apoplectic. Yesterday, the Family Research Council asked for an investigation of that leak about the Pentagon’s DADT study:
So Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s supporters shouldn’t be too happy about the leak.
And Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, isn’t. Today he suggested the leak “gravely undermine[s]” the Comprehensive Review Working Group’s study and asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Defense Department’s inspector general to investigate.
“For nearly nine months the Working Group has operated in strict accordance to that mandate. Anonymous sources now risk undermining the integrity of this process.
“The Secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with the Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of Department policy and his specific instruction.
“The full report will be made public for all to review early next month. Until then, no one at the Pentagon will comment on its contents.”
Earlier today, by press release, HRC demanded that the Pentagon release the DADT study ASAP. Based on this statement, that ain’t happening. Not even close.
On the other hand, FRC demands an investigation and it happens, pronto. Shows who has influence, huh?
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.
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.
“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.
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 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 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.
While Eddie Long's languishing in scandal this weekend, retired Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt will be busy celebrating, because federal Judge Judge Ronald Leighton ruled this afternoon that the military violated Witt's constitutional rights by discharging her under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
"Good flight nurses are hard to find," the Judge noted today, after a six-day trial, and told the Air Force to reinstate Witt, a move which "would not adversely affect unit moral or cohesion."
Witt's journey began in 2004, when, after 17 years in the Air Force, she was suspended and ultimately discharged under the discriminatory policy.
The resultant lawsuit led the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in Witt's favor in 2008, and this latest ruling, which impacts only Witt's discharge, has already resonated among gay groups the country.
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese released the following jubilant statement, "By reinstating Major Witt, a decorated Air Force nurse discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ another federal court has demonstrated once again that this discriminatory law does not contribute to our nation’s security or defense."
Meanwhile, Servicemembers United Executive Director Alexander Nicholson declared, "Yet another judge has taken yet another righteous, historic, and courageous stand against a discriminatory and unconstitutional law."
Small Update: A reader pointed out to me that I neglected to include a statement from the ACLU, which represented Witt. Many apologies. Here is what ACLU executive director Kathleen Taylor had to say: Today we heard the hammer of justice strike for Major Margaret Witt. We look forward to the day when all members of our military can serve our country without invidious discrimination. [Witt's discharge] was entirely unfair to her and unwise for the military, which needs her significant skills."
In another win in the battle to overturn DADT, late this afternoon a federal court ordered the reinstatement of Air Force Major Margaret Witt, who was suspended just before her retirement date in 2004 after her superiors learned she is a lesbian. Today’s decision only applies to Major Witt’s case.
A federal judge ruled Friday that a decorated flight nurse discharged from the Air Force for being gay should be given her job back as soon as possible in the latest legal setback to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The decision by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton came in a closely watched case as a tense debate has been playing out over the policy. Senate Republicans blocked an effort to lift the ban this week, but two federal judges have ruled against the policy in recent weeks. Maj. Margaret Witt was discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and sued to get her job back. A judge in 2006 rejected Witt’s claims that the Air Force violated her rights when it fired her. An appeals court panel overruled him two years later, leaving it to Leighton to determine whether her firing met that standard.
“By reinstating Major Witt, a decorated Air Force nurse discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ another federal court has demonstrated once again that this discriminatory law does not contribute to our nation’s security or defense,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Had Major Witt been discharged in any other circuit in the country, she would not had her day in court. It is time for Congress and the Administration to recognize that his failed law should be removed from the books once and for all.”
“Yet another judge has taken yet another righteous, historic, and courageous stand against a discriminatory and unconstitutional law,” said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “Major Witt’s case is a clear-cut one in which her discharge itself actually harmed unit cohesion, morale, and combat readiness.” This legal victory against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law is the second this month, with a judge in Riverside, California previously declaring the entire “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law unconstitutional in a facial challenge to the law brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. Major Witt’s victory will apply only to her own discharge, but the precedent set with this decision and the previous appellate court ruling in this case on the standard to be used in deciding on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges all contribute to a significant shift in how courts appear to be viewing and treating the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
More reactions will be added to this post as they arrive.