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|'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' unconstitutional, federal judge rules|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|September 09, 2010 21:54|
The military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy violates the Constitution's guarantees of freedom of speech and due process, United States District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled Thursday.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, sued the federal government in the United States District Court, Central District of California, on behalf of several of its members who had been discharged under the policy, which prohibits service members from acknowledging their sexual orientation.
"The net effect of these discharges, as revealed not only in the testimony of the lay witnesses but also of the experts who testified and Defendants' own admissions regarding the numbers of servicemembers discharged and the costs of recruiting and maintaining an all-volunteer military force, compel the conclusion that the Act restricts speech more than reasonably necessary to protect the Government's interests," Phillips wrote in the 85-page opinion.
"Finally, it again must be noted that Defendants called no witnesses, put on no affirmative case, and only entered into evidence the legislative history of the Act. This evidence … does not suffice to show the Act's restrictions on speech are 'no more than is reasonably necessary' to achieve the goals of military readiness and unit cohesion," she wrote.
Phillips declared in the opinion that "Don's Ask, Don't Tell" violates the First and Fifth Amendments and said she will issue a permanent injunction barring enforcement of the policy, As plaintiff, Log Cabin was instructed to submit a proposed judgment and injunction by Sept. 16; the federal government, the defendant, will have seven days to respond.
Atlanta resident Jamie Ensley, who serves on the national board of directors for Log Cabin Republicans, testified during the trial to provide evidence of the discharged service members' membership in Log Cabin — and thus, why the gay group had standing to sue the government over the policy.
Thursday night, Ensley said he was "humbled and honored" to have been part of the case.
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