US Supreme Court refuses to block "don't ask, don't tell" policy in US Military

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

The United States Supreme Court has rejected a bid by gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans to have the US Military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy rescinded again. A Federal court in California had previously ruled the policy, which restricts personnel from discussing their sexuality, unconstitutional. In October, US District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that since the policy prevented gays from talking about their lives it is a breach of their constitutional right to freedom of speech. She forbade by injunction any use of the policy, later nullified by an appeals court decision.

This allowed the policy to stay in place until the Obama administration had a chance to appeal the decision – While President Obama supports the lifting of the ban, he has made it clear that he would prefer the decision to be made by Congress, not the courts, which is why he wants the court verdicts struck down. The Supreme Court decision means the policy can now be applied once more, while the original ruling of unconstitutionality is contested.

Under the terms of "Don't ask, don't tell", initiated in 1993, homosexuals can serve in the US Forces, under the condition that they do not openly admit to being gay; if they do, they can be dismissed. It is also not permitted under the policy to inquire as to whether any member is homosexual – again, an offence for which someone can be dismissed.

R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the group, said in a statement "Log Cabin Republicans are disappointed that the Supreme Court decided to maintain the status quo with regards to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but we are not surprised."

The House of Representatives passed a measure earlier this year to repeal the policy, but Republicans in the Senate have so far blocked any action on the issue.