Today the Palm Center released a statement in response to U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips’s ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. the United States of America which declared the statute known as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ to be unconstitutional.
“Judge Phillips’s ruling on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is historic and makes clear that there is no legal or military justification for banning gay service in the military,” stated Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center. “It now comes down to the Senate in September,” added Belkin. “A vote on the Defense Authorization bill would allow the Pentagon to put forward a new policy of non-discrimination in 2011.” Belkin and former Palm Center Senior Fellow Nathaniel Frank were among the expert witnesses who testified in this case.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to announce shortly whether the September legislative calendar will include consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, which currently includes repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’
A Pentagon Working Group addressing implementation of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ will submit its report on or before December 1st. The Palm Center has stated that the Working Group’s recommendations should include an affirmative non-discrimination policy.
“This is a landmark decision and the Log Cabin Republicans should be recognized for the strength of their challenge,” stated Palm Center Deputy Executive Director, Christopher Neff. “The compelling testimony of veterans like Alex Nicholson and others showed the harm done by this law.”
According to Judge Phillips “the discharge of these service men and women had a direct and deleterious effect.” She noted the negative impact of losing mission critical talent; the acceptance of waivers for felons; and the financial costs of the ban. Judge Phillips also noted the decline of discharges during wartime and also dispelled concerns regarding privacy and the challenge that gay service undermines unit cohesion.