Federal judge rejects 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' discharge

[JURIST] A federal judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] on Friday ordered that a US Air Force officer be reinstated after being previously discharged under the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) [10 USC § 654; JURIST news archive] policy. District Judge Ronald Leighton relied on testimony regarding Major Margaret Witt's exemplary record in finding that her sexual orientation did not hinder her unit, and that she should be returned to duty [Reuters report] as soon as possible. The ruling rejects Air Force attorneys' arguments that absolute compliance with military regulations, including DADT, is essential to maintain order and morale. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], which represented Witt in the proceedings, praised the ruling [press release] and encouraged additional action, saying that it "underscores the urgent need for Congress to immediately repeal [DADT]."

The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed an objection [JURIST report] Thursday in the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] asking the court not to issue a proposed injunction [text, PDF] that would prohibit the military from enforcing DADT. The court declared the policy unconstitutional [opinion, PDF] earlier this month. Earlier this week, the Senate rejected a cloture motion [JURIST report] on a defense appropriations bill that would have repealed the policy. Last month, a US military officer filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] seeking to enjoin the military from discharging him under DADT. In May, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee [official websites] voted to repeal the policy after President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed to a compromise [JURIST reports] that would prevent the repeal from taking effect until the completion of a review to determine what effects the repeal would have on military effectiveness, soldier retention and family readiness. Also in May, A CNN poll [results, PDF] released found that 78 percent of American adults believe that homosexuals should be able to serve openly in the military. In March, Gates announced changes to the enforcement [JURIST report] of the policy to make it more difficult to expel openly gay service members from the military.

 

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