September 10th, 2010
08:11 AM ET
8 years ago

'Don't ask, don't tell' policy ruled unconstitutional

(CNN) - A federal court in Riverside, California, ruled Thursday that the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy - which bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly - is unconstitutional.

"Plaintiff has demonstrated it is entitled to the relief sought on behalf of its members, a judicial declaration that the don't ask, don't tell act
violates the Fifth and First Amendments, and a permanent injunction barring its enforcement," concluded U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, a 1999 Clinton appointee.

The 85-page ruling came in a case filed by the group Log Cabin Republicans against the government and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

"The act discriminates based on the content of the speech being regulated," Phillips wrote. "It distinguishes between speech regarding sexual orientation, and inevitably, family relationships and daily activities, by and about gay and lesbian servicemembers, which is banned, and speech on those subjects by and about heterosexual servicemembers, which is permitted."

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Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Hip hip hooray Judge Phillips for your ruling.

    September 10, 2010 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  2. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Could someone please point out to this judge that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech does not apply to the armed forces?

    September 10, 2010 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  3. Hypocricy is a Speeding Prius

    Just a like a Clinton appointee to pretend she knows something about the military.

    September 10, 2010 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  4. shucks

    Of course it is unconstitutional. It is just not Religiously correct. Religion in this country has reached the sorry state of fanaticism just like in most terrorist states, where citizens of the country are persecuted, killed, and dehumanized in the name of religion. People seem to forget that not only did the founding fathers desire freedom of religion, but also freedom FROM religion. Terrorism is alive and well right here in America. It is called the religious right.

    September 10, 2010 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  5. Liz the First

    Well, duh! it's been unconstitutional all along. the US government has no business engaging in discrimination and bigotry. gays and lesbians serve without any problem in armies all over the world. we have no excuse to continue this short-sighted and bigoted policy. how many of our brave men and women have died because a soldier doing a job vital to the success of our war effort was kicked out because he was gay? think about it!

    September 10, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  6. USA 1

    About time...I served our country, I have always been ashamed of this law. How can we claim to be a Nation that fights discrimination, believes in individual freedom, and the first Amendment, and yet still deny gays and lesbians the same freedoms, equal rights and protection under the law, that the rest of us enjoy? This law is an abomination just like the Three-Fifths compromise in the original Constitution.

    It was wrong and un-American when created and should have been repealed years ago...

    September 10, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |

    Anyone who vote for Newt Ginrich needs a Physco evolution!!!

    September 10, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. informed voter

    Score one for fairness, equality and the Constitution! Some day soon, I hope within my lifetime, this country will protect the civil right of all of its citizens, regardless of whom they love.

    September 10, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. Ben in Texas

    It's a cliche to talk about how strange politics is. Here we have a ruling on gay rights, coming 2 months before the election. The ruling will tend to energize right wingers, which is the purpose of the law suit.

    One might think the law suit was intended to advance gay rights, but that is not the case. The Log Cabin Republicans are a gay sub-group within the Repugnant Party, a party that is otherwise totally opposed to gay people. So, the "Cabiners" bring a law suit, get a ruling in their favor, and energize the people in their own party who hate them, tending to make their own lives even harder.

    In effect, the Log Cabin R's have thrown themselves on their own swords for the party. They should start calling themselves the Lost Masochist Republicans.

    September 10, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    Opposite sex, same sex, best of breed - when the enemy is coming over the borders and attacking us and we have people brave enough to pick up weapons and fight for Americans, I don't care which way they swing! It's none of my business, it's none of your business.

    As far as team cohesion - it's not the homosexual person's problem. It's the heterosexuals who have problems. If they don't like the fact one of their teammates may be gay, then the heterosexual can be booted out of the army because his attitude is unAmerican. This is the land of the free, home of the brave, the country where anyone can grow up to be anything they want. Yes, even if some of those people grow up to be homophobic bigots, they have that right, but that prejudice should never stop a patriotic American from serving their country.

    September 10, 2010 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. Chipster

    It is unconstitutional to prevent people from serving their country because their orientation is judged as deviant by some people. If we don't allow people to serve on that basis, we need to also be screening out adulterers, gamblers, smokers, alcoholics, etc. Sexual orientation is personal and has no impact at all on a person's ability to serve. But allow them to serve if they will just keep quiet is ridiculous.

    September 10, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    About time my brothers and sisters were reconized as human beings and have the same right to the pursuit of happiness as any Christain American. As Americans we have the right to live our private lives free from government intrution.

    September 10, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  13. ConstitutionalPatriot

    I agree with this ruling. Now how about all the other unconstitutional garbage that is allowed? Congress is prohibited by the Constitution to make any law directed toward an individual or group of people. Taxes on alchohol, tobacco, guns and ammunition, and on and on all targeting groups of people, the federal income tax discriminates based on your income how you are taxed is that not targeting groups of people? It's time to wake up America and put our country back in the hands of we the people. We also as a people need to educate ourselves about the Constitution and see why certain things are not ok even if we were raised to believe it's normal. It's time for a constitutional revival in America! Lets do it!

    September 10, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. Darth Vadik, CA

    ...and the sky is blue and the water is wet.

    Here is a clue to what is constitutional...

    if the conservatives are luke-warm about an issue then it probably is constitutional

    if the conservatives are for it, then it probably isn't constitutional

    if the conservatives are adamant and worked up about an issue, and their whole life's passion is wrapped around it, then it is definitely unconstitutional.

    September 10, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. jules sand-perkins

    Of course, but that argument only provides another battleground to delay America's being dragged into harmony with the rest of civilized and evolved nations on the issue of sexuality.

    September 10, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  16. Robert

    Good! It IS unconstitutional!

    September 10, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    No surprise there. Curious, how it never got into the courts until now, not that our judicial system has been worth 2 cents, for a long time!

    September 10, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. Carl

    I think it's about time to try to end the era of Homophobia in this country. I would guess that over 90 percent of us have at least one gay friend that we either know or don't know about. It's truly a shame that every American isn't treated and respected the same.

    If these men and woman are willing to stand up and fight for their country, I say we all should give them the respect they deserve.

    September 10, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. President Obozo: On vacation and OUT TO LUNCH

    Why do we bother with the executive and legislative branches of government? All we need are oneor two of these activist judges to tell us all what we can and can't do. This is insane.

    September 10, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |