Experts: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is Now at an Impasse

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Presidential Leadership with DOJ or a Moratorium Can End this Mess

Judge Phillips has already ruled that there is no evidence the policy is good for the military, and no evidence that implementation of open service would be difficult. It makes no sense to require gay service members to challenge the policy one at a time.

September 24, 2010 -- Today the Palm Center released a statement in response to the filing by the Department of Justice in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States (Case No. CV 04-08425-VAP, Central District Court of California), which requested limiting the scope and staying the enactment of any future injunction against "don't ask, don't tell" in the case. (Note: the filing did not specifically address the issue of an appeal to the case. That appeal will depend upon the final injunction decision by Judge Phillips).

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is now at an impasse that only the President can resolve,” stated Palm Center Deputy Executive Director Christopher Neff. He added, “It is becoming increasingly clear that we are facing a new set of challenges and a new landscape for the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell." Congress is in a stalemate, legal wrangling continues, and discriminatory discharges are still happening. The President has the power to end this discriminatory mess by either not appealing Judge Phillips’ forthcoming decision or by issuing a stop-loss executive order to place a moratorium on these discharges.”

Legal Co-Director Law Professor Diane Mazur responded to the Department of Justice’s filing stating, "The government's position on the injunction is so narrow as to make the ruling nearly meaningless, which may be the point. The Department of Justice appears to be daring gay and lesbian service members to identify themselves to qualify for individual protection, with no guarantee of equality waiting for them on the other side.” She also noted that many of the government's arguments are not new. "Judge Phillips has already ruled that there is no evidence the policy is good for the military, and no evidence that implementation of open service would be difficult. It makes no sense to require gay service members to challenge the policy one at a time."

In addition, a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton is also expected shortly in Witt v. Department of the Air Force (CV-06-05195-RBL, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) on whether to re-instate former Air Force Major Margaret Witt, who was discharged under 'don't ask, don't tell.'

The Palm Center is a research institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara, committed to sponsoring state-of-the-art scholarship to enhance the quality of public dialogue about critical and controversial issues of the day. For the past decade, the Palm Center's research on sexual minorities in the military has been published in leading social scientific journals. The Palm Center seeks to be a resource for university-affiliated as well as independent scholars, students, journalists, opinion leaders, and members of the public. For more information see http://www.palmcenter.org

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