Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Move over Columbus

October 12 May be the
New Gay Independence Day?

Judge to military:

Stop discharging gays under

'don't ask, don't tell'

Landmark ruling says government's

17-year-old policy must end

From MSNBC news

A federal judge Tuesday

ordered the government to stop banning openly gay men and women from serving in the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

U.S. District Judge Virg

inia Phillips found the policy unconstitutional in September. On Tuesday, she rejected an Obama administrat

ion request to delay an injunction and ordered enforcement of the 17-year-old policy permanently stopped.

The decision was cheered by gay righ

ts organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Barack Obama and Washington politics could not.

"This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans.

He was the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights organization that filed the lawsuit in 2004 to stop the ban's enforcement.

The Justice Department has 60 days

to appeal. Legal experts say the government is under no legal obligation to do so and they could let Phillips' ruling stand.

A Perntagon official

suggested the military may in fact halt all attempts to enforce the policy for the forseeable future. The official told NBC News: "It's important to point out that today's federal court order comes less than t

wo months (Dec. 1) before the Pentagon is to provide Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with a plan on how, not if, but how to implement the repeal of 'Dont Ask Dont Tell' in the military."

Legal experts say government attorneys are not likely to let the ruling stand since Obama has made it clear he wants Congress to

repeal the policy.

. . .The Department of Justice attorneys also said Congress should decide the issue — not her court.

Phillips disagreed, saying the law doesn't help military readiness and instead has a "direct and deleterious effect" on the armed services by hurting recruiting during wartime and requiring the discharge of service members with critical skills and training.

"Furthermore, there is no adequate remedy at law to prevent the continued violation of servicemembers

' rights or to compensate

them for violation of their rights," Phillips said in her order.

She said Department of Justice attorneys did not address these issues in their objection to her expected injunction.

Phillips declared the law unconstitutional after listening to the testimony of discharged service members during a two-week nonjury trial this summer in federal court in Riverside.

She said the Log Cabin Republicans "established at trial that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act irreparably injures servicemembers by infringing their fundamental rights." She said the policy violates due process rights, freedom of s

peech and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Gay rights advocates have worried they los

t a crucial opportunity to change the law when Senate Republicans opposed the defense bill last month because of a "don't ask, don't tell" repeal provision.

If Democrats

lose seats in the upcoming elections, repealing the ban could prove even more difficult — if not impossible — next yea


The Log Cabin Republicans asked her for an immediate injunction so the policy can no longer be used against any U.S. military personnel anywhere in the world.



Florida Ends Anti-Gay Adoption Ban

Moments ago, Department of Children & Families' (DCF) Director, George Sheldon, announced that the agency will not appeal last month's court ruling which struck down Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption as "unconstitutional."

It is now legal for gay and lesbian parents to adopt children everywhere in the state of Florida.

In an official statement from DCF, spokesman Joe Follick made clear that the 33 year ban comes to and end today. "The DCA opinion is binding on all trial courts and therefore provides statewide uniformity. The ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional statewide," Follick said.

Equality Florida spoke directly with DCF Director, George Sheldon, this evening, and while the official clock for the state to appeal does not officially run out until October 22nd, Sheldon made clear the ban is over. "The Gill family adoption is now final. They can take pride that they are now a family in the eyes of the state and they can take pride that their struggle has closed the chapter on this law for good," Sheldon said.

As we pause and celebrate this tremendous victory, we want to say a special thank you to Martin and his family, the ACLU and ACLU of Florida, Greenberg Traurig, and Charles Auslander for their brilliant work in the courtroom.

While the 33-year ban comes to an end today, the fight is not over yet. We must defend this victory against extremists who are already at work to reinstate the ban. The same anti-gay forces who pushed for Florida's marriage amendment in 2008 will likely try to put a return of the adoption ban up for a statewide vote 2012.

With your continued support, we will be ready for them. Equality Florida has been working with a coalition of organizations and individuals on a project called Adopt Equality. For months, our volunteers have been calling Florida voters and asking them to support adoption by gay and lesbian parents.

But even as we prepare for what's next, today is a day to celebrate the end of an ugly chapter in Florida's history. Florida's adoption ban is no more, as evidenced by a DCF directive sent to department heads statewide that reads:

Based on the ruling that the current law is unconstitutional, you are no longer to ask prospective adoptive parents whether they are heterosexual, gay or lesbian, nor are you to use this as a factor in determining the suitability of applicants to adopt. Focus your attention on the quality of parenting that prospective adoptive parents would provide, and their commitment to and love for our children.


  1. This demonstrates that governments are not bound to appeal adverse court rulings.

  2. Without a doubt, libby. Without a doubt.