AP: Judges Allow ‘Don’t Ask’ Policy to Continue

Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:00pm

Updated: 7:21 p.m.

The military will be allowed to enforce its ban on openly gay service members while a case on the matter proceeds, a federal appeals court ordered Monday, according to the Associated Press.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means openly gay Americans cannot enlist in and can be discharged from the armed forces.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips had previously ruled that the ban, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” is unconstitutional, and she issued a worldwide injunction against it. The U.S. government is challenging the ruling and requested a stay on the injunction, arguing that it would “seriously disrupt ongoing and determined efforts by the administration to devise an orderly change of policy.” The appeals judges wrote in their order that they were persuaded by the argument.

The same three-judge panel had imposed a temporary stay Oct. 20, and Monday’s decision indefinitely extends it while the government challenges Phillips’ ruling.

The government was ordered to submit a brief for its broader appeal by Jan. 24. The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group that brought the original lawsuit against the ban in Phillips’ court, must reply by Feb. 22. No oral arguments have been scheduled.

President Barack Obama supports a Congressional repeal of the ban. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement last month that the Justice Department’s legal filing in the case is in line with its traditional response “when acts of Congress are challenged” and does not diminish Obama’s commitment to a legislative repeal.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a legal services and policy organization opposed to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” expressed “major disappointment” over Monday’s ruling.

“It underscores the urgent need for the Senate to act this month in the lame duck session to end this confusion and bring about the finality that is needed,” Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “We continue to warn service members that it is unsafe to come out as long as this law remains on the books.”