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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Judge orders global ban on 'don't ask'

A federal judge has ordered a worldwide halt to enforcement of the Defense Department’s "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued the injunction Tuesday after finding last month that the policy — made law by Congress in 1993 — violates the constitutional rights of service members. She acted on a lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay political coalition.

The Justice Department had urged Phillips, who sits in Riverside, Calif., to limit any relief to members of the Log Cabin group or to the named plaintiffs. Her order, however, applies to all U.S. military operations around the globe.

The White House and Pentagon had no immediate reaction to the order, which took effect at the time it was issued.

If the Justice Department continues its present policy of defending the "don't ask" statute despite President Barack Obama's call for its repeal, an appeal is likely — a move that would likely anger gay rights activists who have pressed for an end to the policy. A confrontation with a strongly Democratic constituency a few weeks before crucial midterm elections cannot be welcome news for the White House.

At the daily press briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would not comment specifically on the injunction but said Obama is committed to dismantling the ban on gays in the military. "The president will continue to work as hard as he can to change the law that he believes is fundamentally unfair," Gibbs said.

At the same time, advocates cheered the judge’s action — and her decision to reject the government’s call for a more limited order. (Continues here)

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