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White House drops legal defense of 'don't ask'

The White House has dropped its legal defense of the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, according to several sources.

Since President Obama has signed legislation to repeal “don’t ask,” the Department of Justice requested that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals suspend a lawsuit against the policy brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

In a Dec. 29 filing to the ninth circuit, Justice Department attorneys wrote that the “orderly” terms of repealing the policy, as set forth by the law, will make the government’s appeal in the case unnecessary.

But LCR executive director R. Clarke Cooper called the motion a stall tactic that would delay the government’s opening brief in the appeal due Jan. 24.

“The DOJ can hardly argue now that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is constitutional,” Cooper told The Advocate. “The government is trying to avoid an embarrassing situation, and it ignores the fact that the military remains free to discharge personnel.”

Dan Woods, lead attorney for the Log Cabin Republicans, told The Advocate following the repeal bill signing ceremony Dec. 22 that he would not agree to suspend the suit as long as “don’t ask, don’t tell” technically remains in effect.

It is unclear how long the law will remain in effect, but activists and attorneys with the pro-gay Servicemembers Legal Defense Network are advising gay and lesbian service personnel not to come out yet.

SLDN made it clear that the organization is watching the military’s moves carefully during this transition period. “Until there is certification and until the 60-day congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law,” cautioned SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis.

 

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