Though a bill that would have repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the U.S. military died on the Senate floor a few weeks ago, the ban on troops being openly gay got a serious blow earlier Tuesday (October 12): U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction declaring an immediate end to the policy.
Judge Phillips declared the policy unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates both the free-speech and due-process rights of people serving in the military.
That’s not to say everything is all clear for gay, lesbian and transgender soldiers. U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have 60 days to appeal the ruling (though it was not immediately clear if they would). Though the White House had no immediate comment, it has been President Obama’s stance that “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be resolved by an act of Congress and not by the court system.
However, the ruling was declared a victory by gay-rights activists who have been working hard to avenge the some 14,000 former service members who have been affected by the 17-year-old policy.
Back on September 20, Lady Gaga hosted a rally in Maine in an attempt to get the two moderate senators from that state to vote in favor of bringing the bill that could have repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” to the Senate floor. It was part of a larger crusade that Gaga fronted that included an oft-tweeted YouTube video and a trip to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards with a handful of discharged gay soldiers in tow .
The threat of a Republican filibuster shot down the piece of legislation, and the upcoming midterm elections could end up shifting the numbers in Congress in a way that could bury action on “don’t ask, don’t tell” for years.
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