The Pentagon on Thursday announced it
would comply with a federal court's ruling ordering it to stop
enforcing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 policy that bans gay
and bisexual troops from serving openly, even as President Obama's
Department of Justice began an appeal of the decision.
District Judge Virginia Phillips on Tuesday granted plaintiffs,
represented by gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans, the injunction
they sought after declaring the law unconstitutional last month.
In ruling against the Clinton-era law
responsible for ending the military careers of more than 13,000
service members, Phillips said the policy has a “direct and
deleterious effect” on the armed services.
of Defense Robert M. Gates on Wednesday signaled he was prepared to
fight the judge's ruling when he said Congress, not a court, is
responsible for ending the law.
Several media outlets, including the AP
and the Washington Post, are reporting that military leaders
have said they will comply with Phillips' order.
The “Department of Defense will of
course obey the law,” Col. Dave Lapan, a department spokesman, told
Arguing that a court-ordered repeal of
the policy would be “disruptive to military readiness,” the
Justice Department asked Phillips to delay implementation of her
injunction, signaling it was prepared to appeal the ruling.
“We are disappointed but not
surprised to learn the Department of Justice appealed the decision by
Judge Phillips and asked that the injunction not be enforced now,”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), the largest group lobbying for repeal of the policy,
said in a statement. “Judge Phillips will need to decide if the
injunction stopping the investigations and discharges is on hold.”
Sarvis added that gay service members
“It is clear there is confusion and
this interim period is dangerous for service members. Our service
members need finality. The president needs to deliver on his promise
to end the law this year.”
The ruling comes after Democrats
in the Senate failed to break a Senator John McCain-led Republican
filibuster on legislative repeal of the Clinton-era law.
During a question-and-answer session
with young people on cabler MTV, Obama reiterated his commitment to
ending the 17-year-old law.
“This policy will end, and it will
end on my watch,” he said. “But I do have an obligation to make
sure that I'm following some of the rules. I can't simply ignore
laws that are out there.”