Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Abruptly Ended by Federal Judge for the Time Being

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that abruptly ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a federal judge has ordered would have enormous consequences.

A day after a judge in California ordered the Pentagon to cease enforcement of its policy barring gays from openly serving in the military, Gates told reporters traveling with him to Brussels that the question of whether to repeal the law should be decided by Congress, and done only after the Pentagon completes its study of the issue.

“I feel strongly this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress and that it is an action that requires careful preparation, and a lot of training,” said Gates. “It has enormous consequences for our troops.”

The defense secretary said that besides the changes in training, regulations will need revisions and changes may be necessary to benefits and Defense Department buildings.

The White House said time is running out for the ban on gays serving openly. “This is a policy that is going to end,” spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

Yet, the battle in the courts over gays in the military may not be over. The Justice Department is considering whether to appeal the court ruling and its first response may well be another trip to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside, Calif., to seek a stay, or temporary freeze, of her ruling. If Phillips turns down the request, the Justice Department would likely turn to the federal appeals court in California.

It was unclear whether Phillips’ injunction against the 17-year-old policy on gays in the military would affect any ongoing cases.

If the government does appeal, that would put the Obama administration in the position of continuing to defend a law it opposes.

Gay rights groups warned gay troops not to disclose their identity for now. Aaron Tax, the legal director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said he expects the Justice Department to appeal the case to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time,” Tax said in a statement.

Gates, a Republican, and Mullen face disagreement among some senior general officers on whether lifting the ban would cause serious disruption at a time when troops are fighting in Afghanistan and winding down a long war in Iraq.

For example, the incoming Marine commandant, Gen. James Amos, and his predecessor, Gen. James Conway, both have told Congress that they think most Marines would be uncomfortable with the change and that the current policy works.

In part to resolve the question of how the troops feel, Gates has ordered a study due Dec. 1 that includes a survey of troops and their families.

Obama agreed to the Pentagon study. Obama also worked with Democrats to write a bill that would have lifted the ban, pending completion of the Defense Department review and certification from the military that troop morale wouldn’t suffer. That legislation passed the House but was blocked in the Senate by Republicans.

Democrats could revive the legislation in Congress’ lame-duck session after the midterm election.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins accused Phillips of “playing politics” with national defense.

“Once again, an activist federal judge is using the military to advance a liberal social agenda, disregarding the views of all four military service chiefs and the constitutional role of Congress,” he said.

Perkins urged the Justice Department “to fulfill its obligation to defend the law vigorously through the appeals process.”

Gates has said the purpose of his study isn’t to determine whether to change the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which is something he says is probably inevitable but for Congress to decide. Instead, the study is intended to determine how to end the policy without causing serious disruption.

Coming just three weeks before voters go to the polls, Tuesday‘s ruling seemed unlikely to force a final weeks’ change of strategy or message as candidates pounded home their plans to help put back to work the 15 million Americans lacking jobs.

Polls suggest the economy is driving voters’ choices, pushing national security and social issues down on their list of concerns.

AP writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.

My only comments regarding this story are that it is unfortunate that President Obama and the Democrats have rushed to try and pass legislation to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell prior to the DOD study being completed by December 1st.  Evidently, they do not know nor do they care about the results of what that study may show.  Special interests and social engineering experiments trump military readiness and effectiveness in progressives' eyes evidently.  Lastly, I would concur with Secretary Gates that this is indeed an issue that needs to be decided by congress and not via the dictates of a single judge.

This story can be found at the following link here.


Dave Dubya said...

I would ask how impartial the DOD study is and what assurances of neutrality would be in place before jumping to endorse its conclusions. Or should we assume the military leadership is always honest? Cough, Tillman, Cough.

T. Paine said...

Dubya, I understand your point and even agree to a certain extent.

That being said, the military and its infrastructural leaderships' findings on this study are a vital part of the process in determining how to best address this issue.

Certainly this is something best not left to the decision of a single federal judge of questionable ideology and activist proclivities.

Dave Splash said...

Didn't you guys say the same thing - federal judge of questionable ideology and activist proclivities - about the judge that over turned the gay marriage ban in California. Then, it was found out he was appointed by Reagan and opposed by Nancy Pelosi when she was a junior member of the House?

The military has had decades to "study" this, they just want to keep avoiding making a decision. The American people are overwhelmingly supportive (up to 70% in some polls) of ending DADT. It's time the military ended this discriminatory practice.

T. Paine said...

For a judge to issue a decision based on personal bias instead of the law and Constitution is always a bad thing, regardless of their political ideology.

As for me, DADT was never about discrimination but rather practical matters for military cohesion, morale, and good discipline.

The study was commissioned under the Obama watch and should have been allowed to conclude by its deadline prior to a decision being rendered. Otherwise, it gives proof to the lie that the administration really cared what the military thought about the situation and how best to handle it to begin with.