The Obama administration is seeking to
limit the effect of a ruling against “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,”
arguing Thursday that an immediate end would harm the military at a
time of war.
In a last-minute filing in California,
the Justice Department is seeking to limit the effect of a
ruling that declared the 1993 law, which bans gay troops from serving
District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled earlier this month that
the Pentagon's policy violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights
of gay and lesbian service members. She ruled the policy has a
“direct and deleterious effect” on the armed forces.
Gay GOP group the Log Cabin Republicans
challenged the policy and asked Phillips for a “worldwide,
military-wide injunction” against its enforcement.
Government lawyers, however, argued
that Phillips' ruling should be limited to the 19,000 members of the
Log Cabin Republicans, and that to do otherwise would harm the
“A court should not compel the
Executive to implement an immediate cessation … without regard for
any effect such an abrupt change might have on the military's
operations, particularly at a time when the military is engaged in
combat operations and other demanding military activities around the
globe,” the filing says.
action comes two days after Congressional Democrats failed to move
forward legislative repeal of the policy.
President Obama campaigned on the
promise to end the Clinton-era policy, but gay activists are furious
that the White House remained mum through most of the debate.
“We are extremely disappointed with
the Obama administration,” R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of
the Log Cabin Republicans, told the Washington Post. “Many
times on the campaign trail, President Obama said he would support
the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Now that it's time to step up
to the plate, he isn't even in the ballpark.”
Several lawmakers – including
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Mark Udall of Colorado –
have urged the president not to appeal the ruling.