A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the U.S. government to immediately halt enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military ban on openly gay service members.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a two-page order against the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a case brought by the group Log Cabin Republicans.
In 2010, a federal judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, ruled that the law was unconstitutional and ordered the government to stop enforcing it. That decision was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which issued a stay allowing the government to continue enforcing the policy as it made its way through the courts.
Congress repealed the policy last year, but called for a lengthy process of preparation, training and certification, still under way, before ending it. While the government has significantly narrowed enforcement, some discharges continued.
While the panel noted that Congressional lawmakers repealed the ban in December and that the Pentagon is in the process of writing new rules for the policy, it said that “the circumstances and balance of hardships have changed, and [the government] can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay.”
“The ruling … removes all uncertainty — American service members are no longer under threat of discharge as the repeal implementation process goes forward,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director.
“Today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is most welcomed,” said Aubrey Sarvis, an Army Veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Executive Director.
“It’s the hope of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that this favorable ruling will not be challenged by the Defense Department. In fact, this whole matter could have been avoided had we had certification back in the spring. It’s time to get on with that important certification, end the DADT confusion for all service members, and put a final end to this misguided policy,” Sarvis said in a statement.
The Pentagon said it will comply with the court order and is “taking immediately steps to inform the field of this order,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan said in statement.