USA — ‘Don’t Ask’ to Stay in Place Through Appeal

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2010 — The so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” pol­i­cy will stay in place while the Jus­tice Depart­ment appeals a fed­er­al judge’s rul­ing last month that the law that bans gay men and les­bians from serv­ing open­ly is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Cir­cuit vot­ed 2–1 yes­ter­day to extend a stay on the low­er judge’s rul­ing that put an imme­di­ate sus­pen­sion on the law. Dis­trict Judge Vir­ginia Phillips’ Oct. 12 injunc­tion stopped enforce­ment of the law until Oct. 20, when a Jus­tice Depart­ment request for a stay was approved. The request said the Defense Depart­ment needs more time to pre­pare for an order­ly repeal of the statute. Yesterday’s rul­ing extends that stay.

“For the rea­sons stat­ed in the government’s sub­mis­sion to the appel­late court, we believe the stay is appro­pri­ate,” a Defense Depart­ment spokesman said after the rul­ing.

In its deci­sion yes­ter­day, the appeals court wrote that the gov­ern­ment was con­vinc­ing in its argu­ment that the lack of an order­ly tran­si­tion “will pro­duce imme­di­ate harm and pre­cip­i­tous injury.”

The pan­el fur­ther stat­ed that the courts should show def­er­ence in cas­es involv­ing the mil­i­tary. “We also con­clude that the pub­lic inter­est in ensur­ing order­ly change of this mag­ni­tude in the mil­i­tary — if that is what is to hap­pen – strong­ly mil­i­tates in favor of a stay,” the deci­sion says.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen all have said they sup­port repeal of the law by Con­gress. The Log Cab­in Repub­li­cans, a gay rights group, brought the case to court.

A Defense Depart­ment review of the 1993 law is to be com­plet­ed Dec. 1.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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