June 8th, 2009
11:46 AM ET
10 years ago

Justices throw out lawsuit over gays in the military law

There is no pending legislation in Congress to change or repeal the 'don't ask/ don't tell' law.

There is no pending legislation in Congress to change or repeal the 'don't ask/ don't tell' law.

WASHINGTON - A former Army captain who was dismissed under a federal law dealing with gays and lesbians in the military, lost his appeal at the Supreme Court Monday.

James Pietrangelo and 11 other veterans had sued the government over the "don't ask/ don't tell" law passed in 1993.

He was the only one who appealed to the high court, but the justices without comment refused to intervene.

The provision forbids those in the military from openly acknowledging or revealing their homosexuality, and prevents the government from asking individual soldiers and sailors about their sexual orientation.

The Obama administration had asked the high court not to take the case, and White House officials had said they would not object to homosexuals being kicked out of the armed services.

During the presidential campaign last year, Obama said he supported throwing out the federal law, but has taken no specific action on the controversy.

The Justice Department said in a high court filing the law was "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion."

A federal appeals court in Boston had ruled against Pietrangelo, essentially ending his legal efforts. But a San Francisco-based federal appeals court ruled partially in favor of Maj. Margaret Witt, allowing her lawsuit against the Pentagon to move ahead. Those judges said the Air Force must prove the dismissal of the flight nurse would ensure troop readiness and cohesion.

There is no pending legislation in Congress to change or repeal the "don't ask/ don't tell" law.

The current case is Pietrangelo v. Gates (08-824).


Filed under: Obama administration • Supreme Court
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. MikeNC

    If there were issues with demoralization and degradation, surely we would have witnessed it already in foreign where soldiers serve openly and successfully. I was please to be myself in the company of three stellar Marines during my vacation last week, of which did not care that I was an openly gay male, but rather appreciated my company. It was a nice feeling to receive the mutual respect that I don't feel I was owed but rather earned.

    June 8, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Annie

    I have a question. If some of us don't have all our rights intact, doesn't that put everyone at risk of not having them? Come on President Obama. As Commander in Chief you need to do the right thing here.

    June 8, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. CJ in FL

    Boytjie: "Wow, I was not aware that the US provifding the lion's share of most Western counrties' defense…"

    Where have you been the past 60 years? Out getting pizza?

    June 8, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Sean

    I'm very disappointed to hear this. To idiots like "black spider", homosexuals are perfectly capable of having a platonic relationship with other male soldiers, much as male and female soldiers seem to manage doing on a daily basis. And don't flatter yourself by assuming that any gay guys would be interested in you to begin with.

    And as an overall comment, can we really afford to be kicking well-qualified soldiers out of our military while we're in the middle of two prolonged wars? I'm not usually as blunt as this comment has been, but everything about this is stupid.

    June 8, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Dave, the truth teller

    So all of you who are so tolerant would want to sleep close to or shower with somebody who might sexually desire you even though you do not desire them in the least? Oh, thats right, with Libs it's OK as long as it is somebody taking the burden. Libs are soooo predictable....

    June 8, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Nothing scarier than a gay

    Nestor, don't look now. There's a radical gay islamist behind you! He wants to convert you to Islam and then gay marry you! Seriously, do you have to fail an IQ test to live in Tx or is it just a coincidence that so many of you live there?

    June 8, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Frankly Barney

    Obama's no fool. Looking to the 2010 election and he needs an increased majority in the Senate especially to get his programs through. It also pays to remember DADT was passed by the Congress. The House can certainly send up a bill to repeal it, send it onto the Senate and, if it passes both houses, have the President sign it. Will it happen?

    No, not before the 2010 elections as it would be political suicide in a number of formerly Red States that put Democrats in office in '06 or '08. Also, if anyone in the LGBT community tries to get same sex marriage into the federal court system, they're nuts. It will get to the Supreme Court and lose 5-4 or 6-3 as I wouldn't put Sotomayor in the automatic ok column should she be confirmed.

    And a thumbs down to a thankfully few members of the California LGBT community who, in so many words, told the Mormon, Latino, Catholic and a couple of other minority communities to leave the state. The fact that, together, they form a majority in the state never seemed to have crossed their minds. This whole situation won't change in a day or a year and all the shouting on earth won't change that.

    June 8, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Barbara Independent in NY

    How stupid are we? We need every qualified person we can get to serve in our military. These ridiculous laws need to be overturned. And who determines "normal"? I've heard a lot of "crazy" people speak out against equality.

    June 8, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. AJ

    This underscores my aversion to the Obama administration. "Change"? I dont think so. Obama has shown himself for what he is, a hate filled bigot.

    June 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. demwit

    Thanks Obama!!

    June 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. Aaron

    Im really starting to Hate Obama. This makes no sense!!

    June 8, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. B Lafferty

    I think that because there is racism in the military still we should also expand the don't ask don't tell policy to black people (and might as well extend it to hispanics and asians). We could bleach everyone's skin white (like Michael Jackson) so it would help the morale and unit cohesion. Everyone would be the same. This would make the armed services perfect and we could kill more enemies and terrorists this way. Go Obama!! Way to stand up for your principles!

    June 8, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. donttreadonme

    Seems to me the libs are trying to make this a left vs. right issue to try to gain momentum. The majority of elected dems believe that marriage is between a man and a woman as well.

    They knew going in what the military policy is and agreed to follow that policy. Now they are upset because they broke the agreement and are getting punished?

    You libs most of whom have not served- please stop talking about it as if you know anything about life in the military!

    June 8, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Jack-the Mack

    The truth is i have serve in the military for over 20+ years and know of a lot of gay service members that do their jobs at military standards and above. The real issue is their are alot of bigoted service members that cannot accept they might have to take orders from a gay man or woman. They will feel absoultely demoralize. It's not the gays will bring down the military, it's the military mind set that if gay perform openly and with such honor and dignity, it will make the United States Military look weak. It's all about image, nothing else. In addition, the military mind set is that they are the best society, better than the civialn counterpart. however, there is drug use and dealing, rape, theft, arson, murder, assualts, divorce, child abuse, elder abuse, corruption, greed, etc. My goodness it sounds just like the civilian side of society.

    June 8, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Fla.

    "Don't ask don't tell" should be "Don't ask"–period. Orientation is a private matter and has no bearing on soldiers' ability to serve their country. These brave Americans have already been in our military while upholding their personal privacy. In many cases, no one would even know if they "don't ask."

    Also, the administration seems to understand this issue needs to be addressed at the legislative level first.

    June 8, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Hmmm, Equal RIGHTS still does not exist in this country, does it?

    June 8, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. David

    How would a country overrun by radical Islamists look any different from one overrun by radical christians? Oh yeah–it wouldn't.

    June 8, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. Jack-the Mack

    The truth is I've serve in the military for over 20+ years and know a lot of gay service members that do their jobs at military standards and above. The real issue is there is alot of bigoted service members that cannot accept they might have to take orders from a gay man or woman. They will feel absoultely demoralize and they hate the gay for it.. It's not the gays that will bring down the military, it's the military mind set that if gay performs openly and with honor and dignity, it will make the United States Military look weak. It's all about image, nothing else. The military mind set is that they are the best society, better than our civialn counterpart. However, there is drug use and dealing, rape, theft, arson, murder, assualts, divorce, child abuse, elder abuse, corruption, greed, etc. My goodness it sounds just like the civilian side of society.

    June 8, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Perplexed

    As an Obama supporter I don't understand that he has not already repelled this abhorent law. For God's sake aren't we ALL equal in this world ? Gays or heterosexuals ?

    June 8, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. w.l. jones

    There are few Black skin or White skin people in this country why not be one people straight or gay and get on about the business of being one people and one one country.

    June 8, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. Kelby In Houston, TX

    Would somebody please tell me why it's okay to discriminate against gay people?

    June 8, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Patrick - Indianapolis

    Morality is a matter of opinion. Your childish opinion means very little to me.

    June 8, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. Aaron

    I dont think Woman and Balcks should be allowed to serve.

    June 8, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. Garrett

    I had the opportunity to speak recently with a guy who was a contractor for the military who conducted seminars in diversity and sensitivity. I was very dismayed to learn that homophobia and misogyny were still a huge problem. I wondered if something like co-ed housing would tend to create an environment where such problems would diminish over time. His response shocked me. He said “Never work – the women would be raped”. Huh. These are the soldiers we are depending on???

    June 8, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Fed up in SC

    That is just like Obama nad his administratio backing gays and such. He is for anything that will destroy the America people becasue regardless of his speeches and his so called efforts to turn our country around he knows htat there are a big majority of people who are gay and he ants theri votes. He cares nothing about keeping the morality of our military to gether. He is following the path of least resistance and there are thos who believe he has our best interest at heart. We know he is still trying to fool the American people. No soilder wnats to work hand in hand kowningly with a gay person for fear of all the repercussins of it during combat. It is none of Obama's business if the military whant to keep it quiet whomever is a gay so that way it keeps the peace and the ones who are not gay can stay focused on the real issues of war adn all the attakcs and bombing blowint people up as we have seen time and again in Iraq and outher countries.

    June 8, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7