Today, Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction to the military to “immediately … suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” The order came as part of a federal lawsuit filed against Defense Secretary Robert Gates on behalf of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay-rights group. The judge had already ruled that the military’s policy violated service members’ Fifth Amendment rights. An appeal from the Department of Justice is expected.
This development comes less than a month after a Republican filibuster failed to get the Senate to vote on a bill repealing the protocol, and follows a succession of particularly disturbing hate crimes against young gay men.
Back in September, neither Lady Gaga’s 6.3 million Twitter followers nor her seventeen-minute prime-rib metaphor could dissuade John McCain, who led his side of the aisle in obstructing the vote. Political strategists predicted that in order to get the repeal passed, it would need to happen before the midterms since supporting the measure in the run-up to the 2012 elections was seen as too risky.
During Judge Philips’s initial ruling in September, she said the unconstitutional policy had a “direct and deleterious effect” on the military. In a statement, she wrote, “[D]efendants called no witnesses, put on no affirmative case, and only entered into evidence the legislative history of the act.” Her ruling gave President Obama, who says he objects to DADT, an opportunity to repeal the policy. But because Obama has insisted it should be overturned by Congress, the Justice Department under his term has steadfastly fought the Log Cabin Republicans’ suit, first filed during the Bush administration. So expect an appeal — and more awkward inconsistency between Obama’s political views and his willingness to enforce them.