Describing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) as anything but discriminatory legislation against LGBT individuals is absurd. Claims that the policy is designed to maintain order in the military or that it does not violate the constitutional rights of LGBT service members are equally ludicrous. Recent attacks on the policy from the Log Cabin Republicans have proven that opposition to discrimination is no longer a partisan issue. While this is a ray of hope for those of us fighting for equality in the military and elsewhere, opposition grounded in ignorance and misinformation has been quick to act.
[media-credit name=”Kiki Neibhur” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]When District Court Justice Virginia Phillips declared “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unconstitutional on October 12th, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was quick to suspend Phillips’ decision, claiming that it was an “extraordinary and unwarranted intrusion into internal military affairs.” In response to this, the Log Cabin Republicans petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate — that is, stop — the 9th Circuit’s decision to prevent the enforcement of Justice Phillips’ ruling until the case is done being appealed to the 9th Circuit. This is disturbing not just because it perpetuates the enforcement of DADT until a decision that is at least four months away, but also because it has illuminated the Obama administration’s wavering commitment to repeal.
The Justice Dept. claims that it is obligated to defend any laws passed by Congress as long as there are plausible arguments for their enforcement. It is within the power of the administration to declare DADT unconstitutional and deny that there is any plausible defense for its existence. In a restated commitment to repeal, the Justice Dept. and Obama claim that they are pushing for repeal not through judicial rulings, but congressional action. In light of a harrowing midterm election, I realize that it might be unattractive for the administration to take such a strong stance on this issue, but to do anything else is simply disgraceful. As long as Obama puts off the issue, the opposition to DADT will only grow stronger.
This opposition claims that repealing a policy such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” through judicial means will be too sudden and result in confusion and difficulties within the military, especially in wartime. They claim that a sudden repeal will destroy unit cohesion and threaten the responsiveness of the U.S. military. These claims are simply false, and proof comes from nowhere else but the Pentagon itself. In a draft of the report being prepared for the president, the study found that responses to repeal within the military would be either positive or nonexistent. This latest Pentagon study just adds to the sizeable pile of literature that demonstrates the same point: LGBT openness offers no threat to military integrity or national security. When Obama receives the final draft of the report, hopefully it can provide the necessary fuel for a stronger stance against the discriminatory policy.
Political realities may be what they are, but in the face of the increasingly Republican Congress, the Justice Dept. and Obama must take a much more active stance on the repeal of DADT. By allowing the decision to drag through the court system, by attempting to pass repeal through a hostile Congress and by failing to denounce the policy as unconstitutional, even in the light of reports such as the recent Pentagon study, the administration shows complacency with a policy that is discriminatory, unfair and unconstitutional.