A federal appellate court in California on Wednesday reinstated an injunction on enforcement by the government of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on openly-gay service members.
In 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips found DADT to be unconstitutional and she issued an order stopping the enforcement of the law. However, The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on that same order, allowing the federal government to continue enforcing the ban on gays and lesbians. Wednesday’s decision from the same appellate court overturns its own previous ruling and makes DADT unenforceable again.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision notes that the government never asserted that the ban was constitutional in briefs seeking to uphold the enforcement of the law.
A bill was later passed in the U.S. Congress and signed by the president which lifts the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military. But this only goes into effect after the military certifies it is prepared to institute a new policy.
Gay rights activists are hailing the decision as a step in the right direction and calling for the immediate implication of the repeal of the law.
“With the wait for certification dragging out beyond a reasonable time frame, the Court has once again stepped in to require the Pentagon to stop enforcing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and this time it very well may be for good,” Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and the sole veteran plaintiff on the case said in a press release.
“I am proud to have worked personally with Log Cabin on this case for more than five years now and to have represented the gay military community as the sole named veteran on this lawsuit. Despite the criticisms and years of waiting, this case has yet again successfully eviscerated this outdated, harmful and discriminatory law.”
However, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network advises gay members of the military to proceed with caution due to the constantly changing policies.
“Today’s decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is most welcomed. 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,” the SLDN said in a press release.