Federal judge orders Pentagon to stop enforcing DADT

FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS PENTAGON TO STOP ENFORCING DADT…. About a month ago, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips found that the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is unconstitutional, violating due process and the First Amendment. Phillips added that the policy has a “direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services, “impeding military readiness and unit cohesion.”

At that point, the judge called for the plaintiffs to submit a proposed injunction limiting the law. Today, Phillips ordered the military to “immediately … suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'” policy.

A federal judge has ordered the Defense Department to halt all enforcement worldwide of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. […]

The Justice Department had urged Phillips, who sits in Riverside, Calif., to limit any relief in the case to the Log Cabin group or to the named plaintiffs, but the judge rebuffed that request. Her order applies to all U.S. military operations across the globe.

Phillips added that the existing DADT policy “infringes the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers and prospective servicemembers,” a truth that seems so painfully obvious, it still amazes me to hear conservatives argue otherwise.

The Justice Department will have 60 days to appeal to the left-leaning 9th Circuit, which seems likely. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs didn’t comment on the legal strategy, but reiterated that President Obama “will continue to work as hard as he can to change the law that he believes is fundamentally unfair.”

While we wait for the legal wrangling to continue, these court victories continue to be heartening developments. The DADT policy, while considered a compromise move when crafted nearly 20 years ago, is an embarrassment today. The notion that the United States military, in the 21st century and in the midst of two wars, would kick out able-bodied, well-trained, patriotic volunteers, based solely on their reluctance to lie about who they are, is indefensible.

Ideally, as glad as I am to hear of court orders like this one, I’d be even more satisfied if they were rendered moot by congressional approval of scrapping the DADT policy altogether. But last month, Senate Republican voted unanimously to prevent a debate on a defense spending bill that would have cleared the way for DADT repeal.

While the court avenue is going well, the Senate may yet take up the same spending bill, with the DADT provision, in the lame-duck session.