“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Dead. Again. Perhaps Forever.

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A federal appellate court has barred further enforcement of the U.S. military’s still-existing ban on openly gay men and women serving in uniform. Wednesday’s brief, two-page order from the California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules it is unconstitutional to treat gay Americans differently than their straight compatriots. The government states “that the process of repealing [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”] is well underway, and the preponderance of the armed forces are expected to have been trained by mid-summer,” the court said. “The circumstances and balance of hardships have changed, and appellants/cross-appellees can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay.”

“It’s the hope of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that this favorable ruling will not be challenged by the Defense Department,” the long-standing group championing an end to the ban said in a statement. Like it or not, July 6, 2011, may well be the last day “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was on the books as an enforceable law. It was 17. It is survived by bigotry and unease, both of which, we’re certain, will ease with the passage of time.