"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Remains the Law

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – regarded as one of the most liberal in the land – decided Monday that the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars openly gay men and women from serving in the military stays in place, at least for now.

Marines marching in Kuwait / DoD photo

A 2-1 ruling extends a stay preserving the ban as the Justice Department appeals a federal district court ruling that found the 17-year old policy unconstitutional. It means it’s likely to stay in place for months as an appeal winds its way through the legal process – or if President Obama can convince Congress to repeal the law. The President and Pentagon leaders want to end the ban, but only after surveying troops and rolling out training to prepare them – and modifying myriad regulations on barracks, benefits and other issues – in preparation for the change.

The court basically sided with tradition and precedent, saying it was giving the military wide berth to run its operations the way it sees fit. “The public interest in ensuring orderly change of this magnitude in the military – if that is what is to happen – strongly militates in favor of a stay,” the court ruled.