Judge Virginia Phillips of the US District Court of the Central District of California [official website] on Tuesday denied [order] the Obama administration's request to stay her order requiring the US military to end enforcement of its controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) [10 USC § 654; JURIST news archive] policy. Two days after Phillips issued the permanent injunction [order, PDF; JURIST report], the federal government filled an application for an emergency stay [stay application, PDF; JURIST report], arguing that, while the administration and key military officials favor the repeal of DADT, "a precipitous change in policy will immediately and significantly impair the Department's current efforts to devise an orderly end to DADT." Phillips found that the government's application for an emergency stay did not meet its burden in showing the public interest:
[T]he evidence at trial showed that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act harms military readiness and unit cohesion, and irreparably injures servicemembers by violating their fundamental rights. The public has an interest in military readiness, unit cohesion, and the preservation of fundamental constitutional rights. While Defendants' interests in preventing the status quo and enforcing its laws are important, these interests are outweighed by the compelling public interest of safeguarding fundamental constitutional rights. The evidence Defendants submitted with this Application has not demonstrated otherwise.The government has already filed an appeal [text, PDF] asking the Ninth Circuit to stay Phillips' ruling.
Also on Tuesday, the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced that openly gay men and women are now allowed to sign up [JURIST report] to serve in the in US armed forces. The DOD issued a directive on Friday to all recruiting stations pursuant to which all openly gay men and women may serve, although their status could change if the district court decision is overruled. Last month, Philips declared the policy unconstitutional [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. Following the ruling, the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] asked the court not to enforce its decision [JURIST report], arguing that the ruling was overbroad and that the military should be permitted time to implement a non-judicial solution to the issue. Since its enactment in 1993, approximately 13,000 servicemen and women have been discharged from the armed forces as a result of DADT.