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Monday, April 4, 2011

LGBT & Civil Rights Groups Urge U.S. Ninth Circuit to Uphold Ruling Striking Down "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Lawsuit may still be necessary despite passage of repeal legislation

Peter Renn, Staff Attorney.
Peter Renn - Staff Attorney 
"There is still unfinished business."
(Los Angeles, April 4, 2011) — Lambda Legal, Knights Out, OutServe, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Anti-Defamation League today filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals urging it to uphold a lower court ruling that declared "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) unconstitutional. The brief was filed in support of a case originally filed in 2004 by the Log Cabin Republicans.
Last fall, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was unconstitutional and issued an order that briefly suspended the law. Government attorneys appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit, which lifted the suspension of DADT while the appeal proceeds, but has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of DADT itself. Although Congress voted in December to pass the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal Act, repeal of the law will not take place until 60 days after the President and other government officials certify that it can be implemented.
"There is still unfinished business," said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn. "While the ultimate repeal of DADT will allow lesbians and gay men to serve openly, the government has not yet addressed the damage it has inflicted upon the thousands of brave men and women who were already discharged. Some were wrongly given 'other than honorable' discharges, which have significant negative repercussions. Others face demands from the government that they repay enlistment bonuses or tuition. Until the government shows that it has fixed these ongoing problems, this case must proceed, and we support the efforts of the Log Cabin Republicans to vigorously pursue it."
The friend-of-the-court brief authored by Lambda Legal explains that, despite passage of the Repeal Act, the government has not yet shown that it has taken sufficient steps to address the widespread and lasting harm that DADT continues to inflict upon previously discharged service members. The groups also urge the Ninth Circuit to uphold the district court's ruling that laws burdening the rights of adults to form intimate family relationships should be presumed unconstitutional, and to reverse the district court's ruling that DADT does not violate the federal Constitution's promise of equal protection, especially given that the President and Department of Justice now agree that laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation should be presumed unconstitutional.

Read more about the case.


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