'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' Don't Work
By Jessica Cohen ACLU of Texas Intern “The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act infringes on the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers in many ways … .” The ACLU has long maintained that the Act, which bars active duty servicemembers from disclosing their homosexuality, violates basic constitutional rights like Equal Protection. So what’s the difference now? Well, the quote above is not from an activist calling for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it is from a federal judge (PDF), and that makes quite a difference. Last Thursday, Judge Virginia A. Philips of the U. S. District Court for the Central District of California declared DADT unconstitutional. Specifically, Judge Philips found that the policy violates the constitutional rights of servicemembers on both Fifth Amendment Due Process and First Amendment grounds. In the 85-page opinion in Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S., Judge Philips found that the government failed to establish that the policy significantly furthers its stated aims of ensuring military readiness and preserving unit cohesion. Not only does it fail to affirmatively advance the government’s stated interests, Judge Philips held, but it actually serves as an impediment to both objectives. Since DADT has been in effect, over 13,000 trained and qualified service members have been discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation. That’s quite an astounding number, especially at a time when the need for military enlistment has reached a critical level. In short, the ill-thought DADT doesn’t just discriminate, it harms our national security by driving well qualified servicemembers out of the military. Judge Philips ordered a permanent injunction, barring the enforcement of the Act. What Happens Next? Normally, when a decision as politically charged and controversial as this comes down, the appeal is a mere moment behind. However, because of the current political climate, it isn’t clear if the government will appeal. President Obama has, on several occasions, vowed to overturn the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and has been advocating for Congress to change the law. Despite these promises, the Department of Justice has vigorously defended the policy, and many experts are predicting an appeal, all the way up to the Supreme Court. That is unless Congress settles the dispute first. YOU can help push Congress to repeal this discriminatory and dangerous law – take action here! Judge Philips’ decision marks a very important step toward the ultimate repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and another important victory for LGBT rights. On the heels of the groundbreaking Proposition 8 decision, this second strongly worded opinion upholding LGBT rights further confirms 2010 to be a revolutionary year for the LGBT community and their supporters! And now, with judicial headway made and support from the current President, it is time to lay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to rest. Please, take a moment to take action!