Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is "don't ask, don't tell" on the way out?

Good news from the 9th Circuit: They've ruled that a military policy of discharging every gay service member may violate the law.

May 21st, 2008 | SEATTLE -- The military cannot automatically discharge people because they're gay, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday in the case of a decorated flight nurse who sued the Air Force over her dismissal.

The three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not strike down the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But they reinstated Maj. Margaret Witt's lawsuit, saying the Air Force must prove that her dismissal furthered the military's goals of troop readiness and unit cohesion.

The "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue, don't harass" policy prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or engaging in homosexual activity.

. . .

"When the government attempts to intrude upon the personal and private lives of homosexuals, the government must advance an important governmental interest ... and the intrusion must be necessary to further that interest," wrote Judge Ronald M. Gould.

One of the judges, William C. Canby Jr., issued a partial dissent, saying that the ruling didn't go far enough. He argued that the Air Force should have to show that the policy itself "is necessary to serve a compelling governmental interest and that it sweeps no more broadly than necessary."


Blogger Mike Eldred said...

I have always found it odd that the military - which may have been one of the most progressive forces in combatting institutionalized racisism - has not been at the forefront in combatting discrimination based on sexual preference.
When I was in the military the policy was "don't tell, DON'T TELL!!" Basically, it was a witch-hunt and I lost a lot of good friends. More importantly, the military lost a lot of good soldiers - people who had a lot of expensive training, security clearances, and experience, like linguists, intelligence analyists. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to train an Army linguist - to throw it away because of sexual preference seems as fiscally obscene as it is morally obscene.
But sanity will prevail, although a few decades too late for the people I served with.

May 22, 2008 3:20 PM  

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