A long-awaited court challenge to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell began July 12 in California, after attempts by the Obama administration to block the case from coming to trial.
Because several of their members – including Servicemembers United head J. Alexander Nicholson – are current and former members of the armed forces, the Log Cabin Republicans successfully argued against the administration’s claim that they did not have standing to file suit.
If the LCR wins their case, they are asking the presiding federal judge to immediately suspend DADT nationwide. If the government appeals, they say they will ask for a temporary suspension while the appeal is decided. The Associated Press shows the fine line the Obama administration is being forced to walk by the lawsuit and LGBT rights groups frustrated that the president seems reluctant to expend political capital to secure a repeal:
“This trial is taking place as a direct consequence of the president’s political decision in January 2009 to put the repeal of this law on the back burner,” said Richard Socarides, an attorney and a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues. “We shouldn’t still be living under a law that excludes people from military service because they are gay.”
Socarides added the fact that the U.S. Justice Department will be defending the policy in court is nonsensical.
“On the one hand, the president has said he’s working hard to stop these discharges. And on the other hand, the Justice Department is spending taxpayer dollars defending their ongoing right to kick people out,” Socarides said.
In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, the Justice Department said it is “defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged.”
But the agency also noted the position of Obama, who is working with military leaders and Congress to repeal the law.
“The President believes and has repeatedly affirmed that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is a bad policy that harms our national security and undermines our military effectiveness because it requires the discharge of brave Americans who wish to serve this country honorably,” the Justice Department said.
With the DADT repeal vote still very much up in the air, the LCR says the lawsuit is needed to keep the pressure on President Obama to help move the repeal forward.
Meanwhile, DADT saga continues: The Secretary of the Army suggests that LGB troops could be forced into segregated housing or bathroom facilities if the policy is repealed; the National Center For Transgender Equality (via Pam’s House Blend) warns that even if DADT is repealed, trans servicemembers still face the possibility of discharge based on rather subjective-sounding criteria; and pollster superstar Nate Silver points out that all the much-ballyhooed survey does is test soldiers’ gaydar and measure gossip.
It’s a bit like trying to anticipate a community’s attitude toward a potential influx of Russian immigrants by asking them whether there are any Russian spies around, and if so, what impact they’re having on the neighborhood. If you did that, the people who said there were Russian spies would probably be disproportionately Russophobic (and/or simply paranoid); their attitudes toward Russians would not be remotely representative of the community as a whole.
In contrast, the survey (at least from what we’ve seen of it so far) goes out of its way to avoid asking the troops about something which is arguably more relevant and which is certainly more measurable: their opinions about DADT. At no point, for instance does it pose the simple question of whether or not the solider thinks that DADT should be repealed. I’d have no huge problem if we asked our troops that; it would be up to our policymakers to weigh those findings against other factors. But the survey does not solicit the soldiers’ opinions; instead, it solicits their speculation on the sexual preferences of their peers. In so doing, it insults their intelligence – and ours.