ACLU Says Department of Defense Must Immediately Certify Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” After Federal Appeals Court Ruling

July 6, 2011 5:45 pm

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today said a federal appeals court order that the Obama administration immediately end the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays serving in the military underscores the urgent need for the Department of Defense to certify Congress’ repeal of the policy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today ruled that the U.S. military must stop enforcing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning openly gay service members while the government’s appeal of a lower court’s decision overturning the statute works its way through the courts. Specifically, the court pointed to the government’s recognition in a separate case that unequal treatment based on sexual orientation should be subjected to heightened scrutiny by the courts and the fact that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is well underway. In light of these facts, the court concluded that “the balance of hardships have changed” and the stay could no longer be justified.

President Obama signed a law repealing the policy in December. Under the law, the policy cannot be removed from the books until 60 days after the military certifies its repeal. The Department of Defense has yet to certify the repeal of the statute.

The following can be attributed to Leslie Cooper, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project:

“Today’s ruling underscores the fact that there is no reason for leaving this discriminatory policy on the books. The Department of Defense must certify its repeal as soon as possible so all service members can serve their country with honesty and dignity.”

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