On Sept. 9, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued a landmark decision, stating that the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was unconstitutional because it violates due process, freedom of speech, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances guaranteed by the First Amendment. Last Tuesday, Judge Phillips ordered the military to immediately stop enforcing its ban on openly gay soldiers. With this ban rides the hopes of many who believe that this will be the end for the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The Justice Department attorneys had 60 days to appeal said injunction and two days after the decision had been brought down, they requested an emergency stay of the federal judge’s decision.
The government wants the federal court in California to grant a stay of injunction which would remain in effect throughout the appeals process, stating that the stay would allow for “an orderly transition to a policy allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the U.S. military.”
President Obama, though supporting an end to the policy, believes it should happen through a “Democratic effort in Congress to repeal the law,” instead of an executive order or in the court system. Though men like Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen have all voiced support for the ending of said policy, there has been opposition to said overturn of the policy, namely from the GOP, with Senator John McCain going as far as saying he would “absolutely” filibuster any measure put forth in the Senate to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” during the lame-duck session following the November midterm election.
Many on the opposition think a change in the policy, especially in such a rapid manner, will be a detriment on the troops “morale” and “battle effectiveness.” Gay rights advocates, have urged service members to avoid revealing their sexuality, fearing that the injunction could be tossed out during the appeals process.
With the appeals process in effect, the case would now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and either side could then take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. As of right now, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is over, yet it may be a while before we know if it is permanent.