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
(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.
Contact: Lisa Hardaway; 212-809-8585 x 266; firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
OutServe is an underground network of actively serving members of the United States Armed Services who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The organization is led by an active-duty member who goes by the pseudonym of JD Smith and civilian Co-Director Ty Walrod. For more information, visit www.outserve.org.
Knights Out is a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender alumni of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Knights Out was formed by a group of gay and lesbian West Pointers in March of 2009. For more information, visit www.knightsout.org.