Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ninth Circuit Court: Cease DADT Discharges Immediately

What better way to celebrate Leonard Matlovich's birthday?

A three judge panel today unanimously reached a decision: Don't Ask, Don't Tell discharges must stop, and they must stop immediately. Log Cabin Republicans v. United States effectively has done what the long, dragged out process of certification couldn't: stopped gay and lesbian servicemembers from separation due to their sexual orientation.

Alex and his partner, Jarrod Chlapowski

Alex Nicholson, the lead plaintiff and only veteran involved with the case, became involved with the Log Cabin Republicans' suit to end discharges when the Department of Justice attempted to make it clear LCR in no way had a stake in the matter. Evidently Nicholson's involvement was just what the case needed:

"Appellee/cross-appellant’s motion to lift this court’s November 1, 2010, order granting a stay of the district court’s judgment pending appeal is granted. In their briefs, [the United States] do[es] not contend that 10 U.S.C. § 654 is constitutional. In addition, in the context of the Defense of Marriage Act, the United States has recently taken the position that classifications based on sexual orientation should be subjected to heightened scrutiny. [The United States] state[s] that the process of repealing Section 654 is well underway, and the preponderance of the armed forces are expected to have been trained by mid-summer. The circumstances and balance of hardships have changed, and [the United States] can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay."

While this is great news in and of itself, it shows that certain quiet policy changes from the top are shaking up our judicial system. For instance, one of the instances cited by the court is the case of Karen Golinski, a federal employee suing for benefits for her wife. Last weekend the DoJ indicated that DOMA itself was unconstitutional and was SUPER not interested in seeing it stick around. This is one of the ramifications. From MetroWeekly:

"Among the citations by the court is the July 1 filing in Karen Golinski's federal case seeking health insurance benefits for her wife and the related Feb. 23 letter from Attorney General Eric Holder declaring that he and President Barack Obama had decided that heightened scrutiny applies to classifications -- such as DADT.

"The judges also note that 'the process of repealing Section 654 [-- the DADT law --] is well underway, and the preponderance of the armed forces are expected to have been trained by mid-summer.' Smith echoed this fact, writing to Metro Weekly, '[I]mplementation of the DADT repeal voted by the Congress and signed in to law by the President last December is proceeding smoothly, is well underway, and certification is just weeks away.'"

Nicholson, who is the executive director of Servicemembers United, had this to say:

"With the wait for certification dragging out beyond a reasonable time frame, the Court has once again stepped in to require the Pentagon to stop enforcing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and this time it very well may be for good."

Congrats to Alex and the LCR, and thank you.

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