While gay activists on the left are urging Senate Democrats to repeal the Military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, gay Republicans have beaten them to the punch with a court ruling which may put an end to the policy without legislative action.
Ruling on a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, federal District Judge Virginia Phillips declared the ban on gay service memers to be an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment protections and due process and that it had a “direct and deleterious effect” on conditions in the military. She wrote:
“All of these examples demonstrate that the act’s restrictions on speech not only are broader than reasonably necessary to protect the government’s substantial interests, but also actually serve to impede military readiness and unit cohesion rather than further these goals.”
She also issued an injunction to stop the military from discharging any further openly gay service members.
The scenario in this case is remarkably similar to the recent ruling against California’s Propositon 8. Once again, Republican activists and organizations backed the lawsuit while Attorney General Holder and the Obama administration defended established anti-gay policies. Although President Obama has said he would like to see the policy repealed, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has argued that the military should be allowed to delay any change in policy while waiting for a study on the issue to be completed.
R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans observed:
“As an American, a veteran and an Army Reserve officer, I am proud the court ruled that the arcane Don’t Ask Don’t Tell statute violates the Constitution.”
This victory for the Log Cabin Republicans adds another milestone in the Republican Party’s rapid transition towards increased acceptance of its gay members and advocacy for civil liberties regardless of sexual orientation. This change has been demonstrated by these recent legal initiatives, the inclusion of gay activist groups in the recent CPAC conference and the general lack of controversy when former GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman “came out” last week. While Republicans generally do not believe in giving special rights to minority groups, they believe strongly that all people should be equal under the law, including gay Americans.
The “don’t ask don’t tell” policy was initiated by the Clinton administration and has resulted in the dismissal of over 13,000 service men and women who were perfectly capable of performing their duties. It has drained the military of talented personnel at a time when it is overextended and they are badly needed.