'Don't Ask' to Stay in Place Through Appeal

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2010 - The so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy will stay in place while the Justice Department appeals a federal judge's ruling last month that the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit voted 2-1 yesterday to extend a stay on the lower judge's ruling that put an immediate suspension on the law. District Judge Virginia Phillips' Oct. 12 injunction stopped enforcement of the law until Oct. 20, when a Justice Department request for a stay was approved. The request said the Defense Department needs more time to prepare for an orderly repeal of the statute. Yesterday's ruling extends that stay.

"For the reasons stated in the government's submission to the appellate court, we believe the stay is appropriate," a Defense Department spokesman said after the ruling.

In its decision yesterday, the appeals court wrote that the government was convincing in its argument that the lack of an orderly transition "will produce immediate harm and precipitous injury."

The panel further stated that the courts should show deference in cases involving the military. "We also conclude that the public interest in ensuring orderly change of this magnitude in the military -- if that is what is to happen strongly militates in favor of a stay," the decision says.

President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen all have said they support repeal of the law by Congress. The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, brought the case to court.

A Defense Department review of the 1993 law is to be completed Dec. 1.

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