Monday, April 4, 2011

DODA - Gays in the Military

Enacted in 1993 by the Clinton administration, the American military policy commonly known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," has effectively been responsible for the dismissal of more than 12,000 service members based solely on their homosexual sexual orientation. By policy, the military is not to inquire directly about service members' sexual orientation, while service members are simultaneously expected not to disclose their orientation and "refrain from homosexual acts." (NYTIMES) As a result, 'don't ask' was found to have violated these individuals' First Amendment right to free speech by a federal judge this past September.
A case brought by [plaintiffs] the Log Cabin Republicans (a LGBT Republican organization) against the [defendant] United States was argued in a California District Court [LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS vs. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and ROBERT M. GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE - CV 04-08425-VAP], which found the policy unconstitutional and later ordered the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcing the policy. The defendant had to prove to Judge Virginia Phillips that the policy, which threatened dismissal as punishment for any admission of homosexuality, represented a government interest in maintaining "military readiness and unit cohesion" so great that it justified a violation of the First Amendment.
Phillips found that not only did the defendant not prove a significant government interest, but that the continued use of the policy would have a "direct and deleterious effect.” Numerous service members dismissed under the 'don't ask' policy were named in the suit, citing emotional and physical trauma suffered during their time in the military for being gay. Several additional military personnel dismissed under the same policy held sensitive, high-level positions within the services and (hypothetically) were quite the loss.
Judge Phillips ruled that the law was unconstitutional, and on October 12, 2010, she ordered that the military immediately cease the application of this policy. The ruling, particularly the order to immediately cease using the policy, was met with resistance and threats of appeal. Within a few short months however, both the House and the Senate passed a bill that President Obama signed into law that will effectively repeal the policy altogether, once the U.S. military is finished reviewing the affects such a repeal will have.
What started as a First Amendment case in California court (by mainly Republicans, who have been generally opposed to providing rights and benefits to homosexual Americans) has now moved through all branches of government and will (most likely) be repealed in a few short weeks.
-R. Chase Grier
sources:
New York Times Topics
Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America




Lady Goo, pledging to fight "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

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