Judge rules US military ban on gays unconstitutional
A US federal judge on Thursday struck down the ban on openly gay people serving in the military, saying that it is unconstitutional. The California judge said the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy violates freedom of speech by preventing homosexual military personnel from talking about their relationships.
"The Don't Ask Don't Tell Act, on its face, violates the constitutional rights" of homosexual troops, wrote Judge Virginia Phillips in her ruling on a case brought against the US government by the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative group that lobbies for gay rights.
The defense department's policy allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they do not say anything about their sexual orientation, which the judge said "denies them the right to speak about their loved ones while serving their country in uniform."
She added that it further violates their Fifth Amendment rights protecting due process, by limiting their ability to contest a discharg
The ruling calls for an injunction against the ban, which would keep it from being enforced. The Log Cabin Republicans have until 16 September to draft a proposed injunction, and the government will then have a week to submit objections. The government can also appeal the judge’s decision.
US President Barack Obama has spoken out against the Act and pledged to repeal it. But he said he would do so with the military and Congress, and only after a study is completed on how it would affect military cohesion.
While the repeal has the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Defence Secretary Robert Gates, other senior military officials argue it would hurt troop morale.
Judge Phillips argued that the policy itself is detrimental to the military, not gays serving openly.
"Far from furthering the military's readiness, the discharge of these service men and women had a direct and deleterious effect on this governmental interest," she wrote. She said discharging qualified troops, especially those with critical language skills, lowered morale.