White House, Palm Center, and Log Cabin Republicans Cry ‘Foul’ on DOJ Brief about Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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Yesterday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it was 'odd' that the Department of Justice defended a brief using quotes from Gen. Colin Powell’s 1993 testimony about don’t ask, don’t tell, as Powell has since publicly changed his perspective. The same brief, filed last week by Assistant Attorney General Tony West, also mischaracterized the statements of two expert witnesses, Dr. Aaron Belkin and Dr. Nathaniel Frank representing the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara which conducts research about gay military service in the U.S. and abroad.

(Powell says that) service members are required to serve with very little privacy, so it doesn’t make any sense to me to conclude from that that there is a justification to exclude open homosexuals since he’s just acknowledged that part of being in the military means sacrificing privacy.

Yesterday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it was 'odd' that the Department of Justice defended a brief using quotes from Gen. Colin Powell’s 1993 testimony about don’t ask, don’t tell, as Powell has since publicly changed his perspective. The same brief, filed last week by Assistant Attorney General Tony West, also mischaracterized the statements of two expert witnesses, Dr. Aaron Belkin and Dr. Nathaniel Frank representing the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara which conducts research about gay military service in the U.S. and abroad. On Monday, Log Cabin Republicans, the organization challenging the constitutionality of the military gay ban in court, fired back with a legal brief of their own, objecting to AAG West’s legal tactics.

Below follow statements from the Palm Center, as well as links to AAG West’s initial brief, coverage of the statement by the White House from yesterday’s press briefing, and the response brief and press release by Log Cabin Republicans.

Dr. Aaron Belkin, Director of Palm and Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara:
“The DOJ totally misconstrued what I said about privacy in my deposition. As I have argued for a decade, it is absolutely true that some service members are uncomfortable in the presence of gay troops, but that simply does not constitute a rational basis for don’t ask, don’t tell. Gays and lesbians are already serving with straight service members, and the conditions in the barracks and the showers are not going to change after the repeal of the ban. If anything, the current policy exacerbates privacy concerns because it enmeshes straights in investigations into sexual orientation.”

Dr. Nathaniel Frank, Senior Research Fellow at Palm and author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America:
“I’m not sure that any person in good faith hearing what I had to say could conclude what the DOJ concluded in their request for summary judgment. Read the transcript. What I say is that it is not irrational to be concerned about privacy. But I do not say that such concerns make rational to discriminate against gays, anymore than concerns about red-haired troops would rationally justify banning red heads.”

EXCERPT FROM FRANK’S DEPOSITION ON THE PRIVACY CONCERNS OF GEN. COLIN POWELL:
“(Powell says that) service members are required to serve with very little privacy, so it doesn’t make any sense to me to conclude from that that there is a justification to exclude open homosexuals since he’s just acknowledged that part of being in the military means sacrificing privacy.”

ABOUT THE PALM CENTER
The Palm Center is a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since 1998, the Center has been a leader in commissioning and disseminating research in the areas of gender, sexuality, and the military. For more information visit http://www.palmcenter.ucsb.edu.

BRIEF FILED BY THE DOJ DEFENDING DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL:
http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/CombinedMemoranduminSupportforFiling.pdf

COVERAGE OF WH PRESS SECRETARY GIBBS’ STATEMENTS DISTANCING THE ADMINISTRATION FROM THE DOJ BRIEF:
http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/04/06/Gibbs_Impugns_DOJ_Brief/

RESPONSE BRIEF FILED BY LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS:
http://www.lgbtpov.com/pdf/LCROppositionToMSJ.pdf

PRESS RELEASE FROM LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS:
Log Cabin Republicans Criticizes Government for Distorting Truth and Mischaracterizing National Leaders
Government’s motion for summary judgment has even White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs confused

(Los Angeles, CA) – On April 5th, Attorneys from White & Case LLP, representing Log Cabin Republicans in the historic Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell lawsuit Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America (Case no. CV04-8425) filed a massive opposition to a controversial Justice Department brief, filed last week in a last-ditch attempt by the Government to dismiss Log Cabin’s case.

This Justice Department brief was widely reported in mainstream and LGBT media last week for distorting testimony by two nationally respected scholars* who are serving as expert witnesses in the case, as well as resurrecting testimony by then-General Colin Powell, which he has since recanted.

Log Cabin Republicans’ case is the only modern challenge to the failed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and has highlighted the incongruent positions between President Obama’s stated public policy plans and the actions of his Justice Department officials including a major Obama campaign figure-turned-Assistant Attorney General Tony West.

“The response we filed yesterday was an aggressive response to the government’s latest effort to avoid a trial on the merits of our claims that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is unconstitutional,” commented White & Case partner Dan Woods. “We believe that the government is trying to misstate the law and distort the facts to conceal its lack of any evidence to support its claim that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is constitutional. We have spent a considerable amount of time and energy in our brief trying to set the record straight before the Court.”

Terry Hamilton, National Board Chairman of Log Cabin Republicans concluded by stating that “All Americans should be concerned and dismayed that the Obama Administration does not even know what their own appointees are doing. Log Cabin Republicans will continue to push forward, even if we cannot rely on our ‘fierce advocate’ in the White House or Democratic leadership in the Congress.”

CONTACT:
Laura McGinnis
laura(at)rennacommunications(dot)com
202-596-0402

Cathy Renna
cathy(at)rennacommunications(dot)com
917-757-6123

Indra Lusero
indralusero(at)palmcenter(dot)ucsb(dot)edu
303-902-9402

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Indra Lusero, Assistant Director

Laura McGinnis
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