HRC Blog

Judge Halts “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Discharges; Service Members Urged Not To Come Out

Today, federal district court judge Virginia Phillips, followed her September decision striking down the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law as unconstitutional in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans by ordering the Department of Defense to immediately cease enforcement of the statute barring lesbians and gays from serving openly in the Armed Forces.  However, because legislative repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is still pending in the Senate, and because litigation of this case may not have yet reached its end, we encourage service members to remain cautious about disclosing their sexual orientation. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement upon hearing of Judge Phillips’s decision:

“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 Justice Department could still seek an emergency stay with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, as early as tonight, that would block Judge Phillips’s injunction until that court could hold a formal hearing on the merits of Judge Phillips’s decision to halt all discharges.  In addition, as of today, the Department has 60 days to file an appeal of her September decision striking down the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law as unconstitutional.    It is time for the Administration to recognize that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unconstitutional, and we urge the Justice Department to accept Judge Phillips’s decision to cease all discharges.  Regardless, the Administration must do everything in its power to work with the Senate and Department of Defense to ensure that legislative repeal is completed when the Senate returns in November.

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