Three highly-decorated gay service
members discharged under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” have filed a
lawsuit challenging the law.
The plaintiffs – Michael D. Almy,
Anthony J. Loverde and Jason D. Knight – are being represented by
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group
lobbying for repeal of the 17-year-old law that bans gay and bisexual
troops from serving openly.
Aubrey Sarvis, the group's executive
director, said he hoped the lawsuit would increases the pressure on
lawmakers to lift the ban this year.
“This filing is a shot across the bow
as we prepare to pursue and sustain an aggressive far reaching
litigation strategy if the Senate fails to act this month to repeal
the law. This dispute can be resolved by Congress or by the courts,”
Sarvis said in a statement.
“With this filing we put Congress on
notice that a cadre of service members and our national legal team
stand ready to litigate strategically around the country,” he
In their suit – filed Monday in U.S.
District Court in San Francisco – plaintiffs, who together have
served 25 years in the military, are asking for their reinstatement
and for the law to be declared unconstitutional.
The Obama administration is currently
appealing two federal rulings against the law. The Ninth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in California is preparing to hear the
government's appeal to U.S.
District Judge Virginia Phillips' September ruling striking down
the law as unconstitutional. Following her ruling, Phillips issued
an injunction ordering the government to stop enforcement of the law,
but the appeals court set the ruling aside after 8 days, and the
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has
urged senators to act against the law during the lame-duck session of
Congress or risk leaving the military “at the mercy of the courts
and all of the lack of predictability that that entails.”
Gates made his remarks last week after
Senate Republicans blocked a defense bill – which included language
to repeal the law – from moving forward. A
group of bipartisan senators have launched a last-ditch effort to end
the law with a standalone repeal bill.
Sarvis added that his group is working
on two additional challenges to the law, including one on behalf of
young people who have been deterred from entering the military
because of the prohibition.