BREAKING: President certifies DADT repeal

President Barack Obama is shown signing the law repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ on Dec. 22, 2010. After a delay of more than six months during which the U.S. military branches received training on DADT repeal and dealing with openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, the president today certified repeal of the gay ban. DADT will officially be lifted in 60 days.

 

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

President Barack Obama has put his signature to certification of the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which means that the ban on openly gay and lesbian members of the U.S. military officially ends in 60 days, or on Sept. 20.

“Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality,” the president said today after signing the repeal certification, adding that he had indeed “certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met.”

The president continued, “As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. … Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.”

Obama also praised “our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war.”

Word came last night that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mike Mullen would be certifying the repeal today, but there had been no confirmation then that the president would also certify repeal today.

“The days of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ are quite literally numbered,” Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, said in a press release announcing that Obama had signed the certification. Murphy then went on to say that many other statutes that discriminate against LGBT people are still on the books, at the state and federal levels, and that the ACLU would “continue to seek justice” for gay and lesbian servicemembers discharged under DADT, and that the organization would continue to push for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal recognition to legally married same-sex couples.

“The countdown to repeal begins today!” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network declared in a statement released by his organization. But Sarvis also warned gays and lesbians in the military that they are still at risk and that it is unsafe for them to come out until the ban is lifted in 60 days.

And Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and himself a former Army intelligence collector who was discharged under DADT, called certification of repeal “nothing short of historic,” adding that “gay and lesbian servicemembers can and will breathe a huge sigh of relief” now.

But even as many LGBT rights advocates were exulting over certification of repeal of DADT, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, earlier today issued a statement reminding advocates that the battle is not yet over: transgender and transsexual servicemembers still have to stay closeted or risk discharge.

“NCTE rejoices whenever discriminatory laws end, and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a discriminatory law and it needed to go,” Keisling said. “However, as repeal is certified, transgender servicemembers continue serving in silence. NCTE looks forward to the day when the U.S. Armed Forces ends discrimination in all its forms,” Keisling said, adding a call for the Pentagon and the Obama administration to “address the gap” in DADT repeal.

—  admin

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

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.

—  John Wright

AMA calls for repeal of 'Don't ask, don't tell'

The American Medical Association today approved a resolution calling for complete repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell policy” that prohibits lesbian and gay from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.

According to a press statement released by Servicemembers United, the resolution passed “with overwhelming support from its [the AMA's] membership and virtually no opposition, even from the uniformed services representatives in attendance.”

Servicemembers United’s statement continued: “At issue before the AMA was the chilling effect that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has on the provider-patient relationship and the resulting impact on access to quality healthcare for many active duty troops. Military medical providers can and have been compelled to divulge personal information about patients to military commanders, resulting in the widespread perception among troops that medical confidentiality in the military is non-existent. Servicemembers United has documented cases of troops suffering in silence or hesitating to seek treatment for potentially life-threatening conditions out of fear for their careers, as well as cases of troops leaving the military to get proper treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other combat-related injuries.”

—  admin