Judge Issues Injunction Halting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Posted September 9, 2010 at 9:34pm

Updated: 10:58 p.m.

A federal judge in Southern California ruled Thursday that the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members is unconstitutional, the New York Times reported.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips granted a request for an injunction halting “don’t ask, don’t tell,” saying it violates the First Amendment rights of gays and lesbians. Phillips serves in the Central District of California.

The Log Cabin Republicans had sought the injunction. The 19,000-member gay rights group includes current and former military members.

Government lawyers argued that Congress should decide the issue and that the judge lacks the authority to issue a nationwide injunction, the Times reported. President Barack Obama has promised to work with Congress to end the policy, and the House passed a defense authorization bill in May that includes a repeal.

The provision specifies that the Pentagon must study the implications of a repeal, and the administration must certify that it would not harm the military for it to go into effect.

In reaction to the ruling, Speaker Nancy Pelosi highlighted the House’s work to repeal a policy that she said “harms military readiness and morale.”

“As this case continues to make its way through the legal process, we reaffirm our commitment to end this discriminatory policy,” the California Democrat said in a statement Thursday night.