The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday the government must immediately stop enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law (DADT), which prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces.
A 3-judge panel from the federal appeals court said: “[A]ppellants/cross-appellees do not contend that [DADT] is constitutional. In addition, in the context of the Defense of Marriage Act ... the United States has recently taken the position that classifications based on sexual orientation should be subjected to heightened scrutiny.”
In December last year, President Obama signed a law repealing DADT even as Pentagon prepares new guidelines for the policy change to take effect – facts noted and alluded to in the ruling.
“Appellants/cross-appellees state that the process of repealing [the DADT policy] is well under way, and the preponderance of the armed forces are expected to have been trained by mid-summer. The circumstances and balance of hardships have changed, and appellants/cross-appellees can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay,” the brief order by the San Francisco-based court said.
Family Research Council, which has been long opposed to repealing of DADT, has alleged that the court has overstepped its bounds.
“The court has wrongly and irresponsibly usurped the role of Congress, the President and military leaders in setting policy for the armed forces. Last year’s repudiated Democratic lame-duck Congress passed legislation that requires certification by President Obama, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before open homosexuality is permitted in the military,” said Tony Perkins, president of FRC in a statement issued Wednesday.
“In light of today’s ruling, we call on President Obama to agree to the request made by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and 31 other House Members who have asked the President to delay the certification until the military has an opportunity to clear up the mass confusion sparked by the policy change. Congress must maintain the ability to protect the military against the threats to good order, morale, discipline, and unit cohesion that would be posed by allowing open homosexuality in the military.
“Unfortunately, today’s ruling further complicates an already flawed implementation process. We urge President Obama to appeal this ruling immediately and for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and return the decision to where it belongs. This is a decision for Congress that should be based upon the input of the men and women who serve and those who lead them,” concluded Perkins.
Meanwhile, officials at the Pentagon said they would comply with the court order and inform commanders in the field.