Wednesday, October 13, 2010

DADT Struck Down by Federal Judge

Yesterday, federal Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the central district slapped an injunction on the 1993 Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that had barred gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers from serving while openly gay. Since this despicable and cowardly law's implemetation, between 13,000-14,000 US service men and woman had been kicked out after being outed, investigated or voluntarily coming out.

This essentially puts the kibosh on the law unless the Obama Justice Department wants to appeal the ruling. They have 60 days from the ruling to do so. For now, Clinton appointee Phillips's ruling is under review. Historically, the Department of Justice defends laws passed by Congress and signed into being by the executive branch. But it's unlikely the Obama DOJ will challenge Judge Phillips's injunction... before Election Day, anyway.

Predictably, this has wingnuts in a lather. Tony "Who's the Girl, Norman?" Perkins of the Family Research Council is calling Phillips (yawn) an activist judge and professional nonentity Robert Gates is grumbling that it wasn't within the judge's purview to hand down such a ruling when the case came up before her court. This should've been Congress's call, he said (This is the same Gates who'd fairly recently testified before Congress to end DADT but on a painfully slow timetable).

Well, I beg to differ, Dr. Bob, but the Senate didn't do shit and decided to punt this smelly turd, as with the Bush tax cuts and Obama's nominees, past the midterms. Senate Democrats, as usual, caved faster than a Murray Energy mine in the face of the shrinking Republican minority when they started calling them bad names. They had their chance and, unlike House Democrats, they blew it. It was certainly within the judge's legal purview to hand down her ruling and it now stands as law: For US servicemembers all over the world, DADT cannot be enforced. The law still stands on the books, mind you, but without an enforcement apparatus, it might as well be stricken from the books.

There are two ironies at play here: First, the guy who signed DADT into law in his first months as president is also the guy who'd nominated Judge Phillips to her present position in 1999. So much for Clinton's reputation for being a flaming hippie liberal.

Secondly, how come it was up to the Log Cabin Republicans, a national organization of gay conservatives, to challenge Don't Ask, Don't Tell years ago in a federal court? Where were our organizations? Why didn't the ACLU file a complaint, or Moveon or any gay rights organizations on the progressive side? Why did it come down to conservatives fighting for what was right for our LGBT servicemembers and winning a potent victory for perhaps the most vocal part of the liberal movement?

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