Lambda Legal Urges Court: Do Not Reinstate 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

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04/23/2014 - 18:00
04/25/2014 - 18:00

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"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is nothing short of a public pronouncement that discrimination ”Š is acceptable"


Peter Renn

"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' dishonors the memory of lesbian, gay and bisexual service members who have given their lives for this country."

(Los Angeles, October 25, 2010)—Lambda Legal today filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to leave in place pending appeal the injunction a federal district court judge issued against enforcement of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces, saying that the policy's impact extends far beyond those in uniform and that continuing it would do irreparable harm to lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans.

The brief was filed in support of a case brought by Log Cabin Republicans against the discriminatory policy. On September 9, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips declared DADT unconstitutional and, on October 12, enjoined its continued enforcement by the military. The Department of Justice (DOJ) then filed a motion for Phillips to stay the injunction pending appeal of the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Phillips denied the motion, and the DOJ then subsequently filed a motion with the Court of Appeals requesting a stay of the injunction pending appeal.

Lambda Legal's amicus brief argues that DADT takes a heavy toll on lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) service members, forcing them to live in constant fear of being discovered. But its influence extends far off American military bases: "DADT is nothing short of a public pronouncement by the federal government that discrimination against LGB people is acceptable, that LGB people are inferior to heterosexual people, and that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is a shameful trait that ought to be concealed." The brief also argues that DADT's discriminatory message is particularly damaging to lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, as exemplified by the surge of recently reported teen suicides caused by antigay bullying. "The government cannot plausibly claim that its actions are unrelated to such tragedies and abuses, so long as it remains the nation's leading model for open discrimination against LGB people."

"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' dishonors the memory of lesbian, gay and bisexual service members who have given their lives for this country," said Peter Renn, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney. "It also terrorizes the living, forcing them to be constantly on guard, even in private conversations on the phone or through email. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that we all have a constitutionally protected right to intimacy, and you don't lose that right when you enlist in the military."



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Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.