Ping-Pong? No, Just The Latest Ruling on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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Late Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals bowed to the wishes of the Obama Justice Department and said the Pentagon could continue its all-but-gone enforcement of the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the U.S. military. This on-again, off-again life of the 17-year old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law has everyone pretty confused. For now, the law lives, after the court reversed course yet again on its enforcement. The California federal appellate court agreed Friday that congressional action last year, detailing a process for the Pentagon to follow leading to the end of the ban, should be permitted to go forward without judicial interference. The court said it was taking such action because the government had not informed it until last week just how close it was to scrapping the law. The order also bars the military “from investigating, penalizing or discharging anyone from the military pursuant to the don’t ask, don’t tell policy.”

The other side of the ban was made clear in a post on the New York Times’ At War blog, where Army Captain Adrian Bonenberger says that changing the law won’t change some minds. “We are moving in a matter of months from a reality where it is not unusual to hear a general speak contemptuously or disparagingly about homosexuals,” he writes, “to a reality where everyone is expected to behave as though their entire military experience up to that point was a dream.” He warns: “Make no mistake about it: accepting openly gay service members poses a serious problem for combat branches in the military.” The Times‘ Jim Dao details the benefit challenges gay troops are likely to face once “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is history in Sunday’s paper.