Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Judge upholds ruling on don't ask, don't tell | Reuters

Judge upholds ruling on "don't ask, don't tell"

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WASHINGTON | Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:15pm EDT


(Reuters) - A judge on Tuesday ordered the Pentagon to stop banning openly gay men and women from serving in the military after ruling last month that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in California rejected the administration's request to limit her ruling to only military personnel who are members of the Log Cabin Republicans, the organization that sued to overturn the policy.

Phillips said in a 15-page order that because she had ruled that the policy was unconstitutional, the only proper remedy was to grant the organization a broad injunction barring the U.S. military from enforcing its policy.

The law had barred homosexual acts in the military but allowed gay men and lesbians to serve in the armed forces so long as they keep their sexual orientation private. Otherwise, they are to be expelled.

Phillips found that it violated the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution and asked the two sides for comment on possible remedies, including a permanent injunction against the policy.

Phillips enjoined the Pentagon from enforcing the policy against anyone under its jurisdiction and told the Defense Department to suspend or end any pending investigation, discharge or other proceedings under the policy.

A Justice Department spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the ruling.

The policy was introduced in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and enacted into law, overturning a previous policy of excluding gay men and women altogether based on a premise that homosexuality was incompatible with the military.

President Barack Obama had pledged to repeal the policy but has faced strong opposition from Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates imposed tougher rules of evidence and generally made it more difficult to discharge openly gay military personnel. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has surveyed service members on the issue.

The case in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, is Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, 04-08425.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Bill Trott)


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