Judge Issues “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Injunction

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Hello everyone –

It has been a little while since I posted new content here at CRW, but I am back.  Thanks to all of you loyal readers and new visitors who discovered the blog during my break.  I hope to keep everyone interested, and in particular, stay tuned because there will be some interesting changes in both content and format here at CRW which I hope to have in place by the first of the year.

In the meantime, let me jump back in with a quick post on a lightning-rod issue:  gays in the military.  On October 12, 2010, defying the Obama Administration‘s desire for a stay, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips‘, seated in San Diego, CA, issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday immediately stopping enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, suspending the 17-year-old ban on openly gay U.S. troops.  Her landmark  ruling also ordered the government to suspend and discontinue all pending discharge proceedings and investigations under the policy.

Views about the judge’s decision were predictably divided.  Rather than repeat the principals press comments verbatim here, you can read an excellent article by following this link to Yahoo.

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was enacted in 1993 under President Clinton, but has been widely disparaged by civil rights advocates.

Quick Stats On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” –

I was just made aware of some interesting statistics regarding the number of servicemembers discharged from the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  According to my information, which is apparently grounded in stats kept by the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network, 12,500 servicemembers have been discharged from the U.S. military since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was signed into law.  I encourage you to visit the Servicemembers’ website directly, as I have not independently verified the accuracy of this number.  If it is accurate, that is an outrageously high number for a comparatively recent law.

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House Vote Paves Way For Gays In The Military; Fight Isn’t Over Yet

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a defense bill signaling the beginning of the end to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning openly-gay personnel from serving in the military.

The defense bill passed by a vote of 229-186 vote, a smaller margin than is typical.  Many Republicans and a few Democrats voted against it solely because of its inclusion of the gays in the military provision.

House approval of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” repeal was a victory for President Obama, who has pledged to change the policy, and for gay-rights groups, which have made it their top priority this year. The bill would give the Pentagon the rest of the year to study the issue before the repeal would take effect.

The Senate is expected to take up the defense bill this summer. Supporters of an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy are likely to need the votes of 60 of the 100 senators to prevent opponents from blocking it.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a chief backer of changing the law, said at a news conference Friday most senators support ending the gay ban.

“I believe a majority of the Senate, just like a majority of the country … favor changing this policy,” he said. “It is a discriminatory policy.”

By ending its ban on allowing openly-gay service members, the United States would actually be joining a long list of many of our allies that already allow such service.  I have placed a PDF of a study conducted by the University of Santa Barbara’s Palm Center for Sound Public Policy in the Box which shows the countries allowing openly-gay service members.  This list is current as of June 2009, and is entitled CountriesWithoutBan.

You can also read more about the house vote here.