Appeals court re-allows ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’ but blocks military discharges
SAN FRANCISCO, July 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal appeals court in San Francisco has agreed to the U.S. Justice Department’s request to allow the federal government to resume enforcement of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy temporarily. The move allows the Pentagon to continue its job of certifying the military’s readiness to accept homosexual troops into the ranks.
Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals had lifted a stay on a lower court’s order that requires the U.S. military to end enforcement immediately of the ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ ruling, issued in October 2010, made illegal the U.S. enforcement of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and 10 U.S.C. § 654, the 1993 law banning homosexuals from military service.
The Associated Press reports that the federal appeals court agreed Friday to re-impose the stay on Phillip’s worldwide order they had lifted on July 6 – but with a provision that blocks the military from proceedings resulting in the discharge of open homosexuals already in the ranks. The Justice Department filed an “emergency motion” with the court Thursday – after more than a full week had elapsed since the appeals court’s ruling.
The appeals court said in a three-page ruling that “previously undisclosed facts” from the federal government prompted them to change their minds about their previous order.
Congress repealed the law and the policy forbidding open homosexuals in the ranks (both together referred to as DADT) back in December, but specified that the ban would be dropped only 60 days after the Pentagon had certified that the armed forces were prepared to integrate open homosexuals into the ranks.
The Justice Department has argued that the military should be allowed to follow the orderly transition process laid out by Congress. The military’s mandatory sensitivity training for the integration of homosexuals is scheduled to conclude in August.
Ironically, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw and Richard A. Paez had cited a recent Justice Department brief filed against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when they ruled DADT should no longer be enforced. The brief asserted the United States was guilty of “a significant history of purposeful discrimination against gay and lesbian people.”
The appeals court panel is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the appeal of Phillips’ ruling on August 29.