Entries in Don't Ask Don't Don't Tell (9)


A First for US Navy: Two Women Share Ceremonial First Kiss

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Mann/Released(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) -- That old adage about sailors having a girl at every port took on a new meaning when the USS Oak Hill arrived at Virginia Beach, Va., Wednesday after a three-month deployment in Central America.

Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles waited patiently on the dock for her sailor to arrive and sure enough, she wasn't disappointed when Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta stepped off the boat before anyone else to plant a kiss on her partner.

As far as anyone knows, this was the first time a same-sex couple enjoyed the Navy's ceremonial first kiss since the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

Typically, a crewmember is selected by a raffle to do the honors.  Gaeta wanted to make sure she had a better chance at winning, having bought 50 tickets.

Nobody seemed bothered by the smooch.  In fact, the dock erupted into cheers at the sight of the pair enjoying the time-honored Navy tradition.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Is Officially Over

Bill Clark/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With virtually no fanfare, the Pentagon's policy of forcing members of the military to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or else face discharge ended on Tuesday, meaning that all branches of the armed forces can now act on applications from openly gay and lesbian people.

"Don't ask, don't tell" -- first instituted after long debate in 1993 -- was repealed by Congress last December and signed by President Obama.  Since then, the Pentagon has reviewed its policies and had all 2.25 million current military members undergo training to ensure an orderly transition.

Before the repeal, the Pentagon conducted a survey and found that most soliders said that having homosexuals among them would not be disruptive.  The Marine Corps was the least receptive to the idea.

Over the past 17 years, 14,000 service members were kicked out of the military for being gay or lesbian.  Many said they were "outed" by others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gates: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Will Have Minimal Impact on Military

Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- While the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell policy" was repealed by Congress last December, gay and lesbian service personnel can't openly serve yet because the military is still in the process of implementing the transition.

In Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told American troops at Camp Liberty in Baghdad Thursday that he believes soldiers will treat each other with "dignity, respect and discipline" when the ban on revealing one's sexual orientation is finally dropped.

Gates, who was making his last visit to Iraq as defense chief, says the overall changes will be minimal.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos was also asked about the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal by a House panel on Capitol Hill and had pretty much the same opinion as Gates.

After a visit to troops in Afghanistan, Amos said that the primary concern of Marines he talked to was fighting the enemy and not worrying about if a comrade is gay or lesbian.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Poll: Americans Broadly Support Military Service by Gays

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call/ Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Seventy-seven percent of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military -- the highest percentage in polling going back 17 years -- capping a dramatic long-term shift in public attitudes on the issue.

The result in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll comes as the House prepares to vote on legislation that would repeal the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a measure previously approved in the House as part of a larger bill, but stalled in the Senate.

When first asked in an ABC/Post poll in 1993, 63 percent of Americans favored allowing service by homosexuals who don’t reveal their sexual orientation -- the “don’t tell” policy.  Far fewer, 44 percent, supported service by gays who openly reveal their sexual orientation.

Both views have changed, the latter most sharply.  Today, 83 percent favor allowing service by gays who don’t tell, up 20 points, and, as noted, almost as many also favor service by gays and lesbians who do disclose their sexual orientation, up 33 points from its 1993 level.

These numbers have been largely stable the last few years.  The former, 83 percent, matches its high last February.  The 77 percent figure is two points above its previous high in ABC/Washington Post polls in 2008 and last winter.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Secretaries of Armed Forces Now in Charge of DADT Discharges

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force will be the only officials allowed to discharge homosexuals who reveal their sexual orientation, a violation of the 17-year-old Clinton-era law, the Pentagon has announced.

This new development, which strips uniformed officers of the authority to remove homosexuals from the armed forces, is intended to clarify a muddled situation caused by a federal judge who ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could no longer be enforced, and the Justice Department’s success at getting the judge’s stay lifted through a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Regarding the change, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for personnel said the appeals ruling “highlights the legal uncertainty period in which we now find ourselves with respects to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ and the need to further ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement of the law.”

While the military insists that this new protocol isn’t intended to slow down discharges, Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, argued that there should be far fewer gay and lesbian soldiers kicked out of the armed forces, since the secretaries would be more apt to apply the legal standard to what constitutes violating the policy than uniformed officers.

President Obama, who wants to see “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed by Congress, supported the Department of Justice's action to temporarily reinstate the policy, preferring that lawmakers, and not the courts, finally end it following an extensive Pentagon review due in December.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': Is Obama Administration Bound to Defend Law It Opposes?

File Photo: Pair of boots with names of veterans discharged under "Don't Ask Don't Tell" worn by former Marine Corporal Evelyn Thomas. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When it comes to gay rights, President Obama has been forceful in declaring where he stands, promising to bring an end to both the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex couples.

Yet even after federal judges ruled separately that both laws are unconstitutional, the Obama administration's Justice Department has continued with appeals, saying it's bound by a "duty to defend" the laws even if it doesn't like them.

The department's latest appeal came Wednesday when government lawyers asked a federal appeals court to reinstate the military's ban on openly gay service members after district court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled it unconstitutional and issued an immediate, worldwide injunction against the policy.

A federal appeals court reinstated the policy late Wednesday.  A three-judge panel granted the Justice Department's emergency request to allow the policy to remain on the books so that the appeals court could have more time to fully consider the issues presented.

The administration's handling of the case has angered critics on both sides of the issue.  Some legal scholars and gay rights advocates, infuriated by what they see as hypocrisy, insist the "duty to defend" has already been fulfilled and there is ample precedent for the administration to let Judge Phillips' decision stand.  Meanwhile, supporters of the law say the administration's invocation of their "duty" is a smokescreen for a halfhearted defense.

"It happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law," said former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson, who is leading the legal challenge of California's ban on same-sex marriage. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state attorney general have both declined to defend the law in court.

"I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Olson said. "It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Federal Appeals Court Reinstates 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  A federal appeals court Wednesday reinstated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's policy forbidding openly gay troops from serving.

A three-judge panel granted the Justice Department's emergency request to allow the policy to remain on the books so that the appeals court could have more time to fully consider the issues presented.

An attorney for the gay rights group pushing to change the policy suggested Wednesday's reversal would be only temporary.

"While we are disappointed with the court's ruling granting a temporary administrative stay, we view the decision as nothing more than a minor setback," said Dan Woods, a partner at the law firm White & Case, which is representing Log Cabin Republicans in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America.

"We didn't come this far to quit now, and we expect that once the Ninth Circuit has received and considered full briefing on the government's application for a stay, it will deny that application, and the district court's injunction, which it entered after hearing all the evidence in the case, will remain in place until the appeal is finally decided," Woods said.

On Oct. 12, California District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued a worldwide ban on the policy, and shortly thereafter the Department of Defense said it would abide by the judge's order.

That meant the policy no longer was in effect from Oct. 12 until Wednesday's ruling, meaning gay and lesbian troops and recruits temporarily did not have to hide their sexual orientation.

But gay rights advocates urged caution to those serving, warning that the policy could be reinstated at any time.

"The bottom line:  If you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon," Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement.  "As the Department of Justice fights to keep this unconstitutional and oppressive law, we are monitoring active-duty clients' cases and fielding calls every day to our hotline."

In court papers, lawyers for the Obama administration urged the appeals court to lift the ban on enforcement of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because it would cause the government "irreparable injury" and "short-circuit" a comprehensive review process of the policy currently under way at the Department of Defense.

They argued it would also interfere with other pending litigation in other federal courts, and it would cause confusion among the troops.

"A stay pending appeal," government lawyers wrote, "would obviate the confusion and uncertainty that might be caused by temporary implementation of the district court's injunction, with the looming possibility that the statutory policy could be reinstated on appeal."

But lawyers for the Log Cabin Republicans, which brought the case to court, argued against a stay.

"Each argument that the government asserts as a basis for a stay," they said, "has already been raised to the district court, which rejected them all -- not cursorily, or in passing at an oral argument, but in extensive reasoned opinions at multiple stages of the proceedings below."

The Obama administration already has notified the appeals court that it is planning to appeal Judge Phillips' finding that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" violates the due process and free speech rights of service members.

The legal wrangling has infuriated gay rights activists.  The Obama administration has vowed to work to repeal the policy in Congress, but has said it does not want the issue decided by the courts.  As such, government lawyers are in the awkward position of defending a statute that the administration admits it is against.

Gay rights groups urged President Obama to abide by the ruling and allow the nearly 16-year-old policy to immediately end.  However, President Obama, has said he will continue to fight the policy in court and will work with the lame duck Congress to repeal it after the elections.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Judge Expected to Make Final Decision on DADT

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A federal judge in California is expected to issue a final ruling Tuesday on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Judge Virginia Phillips has already indicated publicly she plans to put the policy on hold immediately.  She tentatively refused to let the Pentagon reinstate "don't ask, don't tell" on Monday.  Now, Phillips is expected to make that ruling final.

Government lawyers want to keep the policy in place temporarily, claiming they need more time.  They say they will file an appeal immediately.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Cautions Gay Service Members Not to Tell

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new Pentagon memo cautions gay service members that even though the Defense Department is complying with a federal judge's injunction of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, they still could get into trouble if they come out of the closet while enforcement of the policy is on hold.

The warning is contained in a memo from Clifford Stanley, the defense under secretary for personnel and readiness, to the four military services.  The letter advises enlistees that because of the injunction issued Tuesday, the military is not implementing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Though "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is on hold, Stanley says the Pentagon will continue with its policy to not ask "service members or applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat all members with dignity and respect, and to ensure maintenance of good order and discipline."

However, it appears that if a service member were to "tell" that they were gay, they could face repercussions if the injunction is reversed.

In the memo, Stanley admits to uncertainty about the future of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and policy but cautions gay service members, "We note for service members that altering their personal conduct in this legally uncertain environment may have adverse consequences for them or others should the court's decision be reversed."

On Thursday, the Justice Department filed a request in federal court in Los Angeles for Judge Virginia Phillips to stay her injunction order that was released on Tuesday.

Stanley's memo says that while the court considers the request, "the Department of Defense will abide by the terms of the injunction."

However, Stanley seems optimistic that compliance may not last long as "it is possible that a stay of the injunction could be issued very soon, perhaps in a matter of days."

Stanley's warning echoes advice from gay advocacy groups in the wake of Judge Phillips' ruling that it might not be a good idea to come out as being gay as the legal process over the injunction follows its course.

On Tuesday, Servicemembers United issued a recommendation to gay and lesbian troops that they should not come out in response to the injunction.

In a statement, Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United warned, "Those who are on active duty should continue to operate as if 'don't ask, don't tell' were still in effect for now.

Servicemembers United's staff and leadership have all served under this heinous law too and we know what it's like, we know how frustrating it is.  However the safest option for now for those who want to protect their careers is not to come out yet."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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