HRC Blog

Federal Court Declares “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Unconstitutional

Yesterday Federal District Judge Virginia A. Phillips declared that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and free speech.  This landmark decision highlights the need for timely action for repeal by the U.S. Senate. HRC President Joe Solmonese released the following statement:

“This federal court affirmed what the vast majority of the American people know to be true – that it’s time for the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law to be sent to the dustbin of history.  With this legal victory in hand, Congress is in a perfect position to strengthen our national security by ending a law that has discharged thousands of capable service members.  With House passage already secured, the Senate can and should vote in the next few weeks to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and allow every qualified man and woman the chance to serve with honor.”

The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), a national organization of lesbian and gay Republicans, brought a challenge to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law on October 12, 2004.  Following years of tackling procedural questions and preliminary motions, the district court heard LCR’s challenge this summer, where the testimony of six discharged service members and seven expert witnesses was presented to the trial court by LCR.  After considering this evidence, Judge Phillips determined that DADT violates the due process and free speech rights of LCR’s membership.  Judge Phillips will issue a final judgment, which may block enforcement of the DADT law nationwide, in the next few weeks.  The government may appeal her decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  HRC applauds LCR for its commitment to overturning the unconstitutional and discriminatory DADT law. While the constitutionality of DADT continues to be litigated in the courts, Congress is moving forward with repeal legislation.  On May 27th, 2010, with support of the President, the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment to the Senate FY 2011 Defense Authorization bill to repeal DADT.  The amendment was offered by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Carl Levin (D-MI).  Later that same day, Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) offered an identical amendment to the House FY 2011 Defense Authorization bill that was adopted by the House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 194.  The House passed its Defense Authorization bill on May 28th, 2010.  HRC’s members and supporters from across the country are calling for the Senate to vote on its Defense Authorization bill before the November elections and send the DADT repeal language to the President’s desk for signature.

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