President Obama signed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” into law today, but the successful federal court case brought against DADT by the Log Cabin Republicans is still alive — for now.
“Before we pull the lawsuit, we’re waiting for the certifications from the military chiefs that this policy will no longer be enforced,” says Melissa Kennedy, LCR press secretary. “We expect that to be within six months, but we can’t pull the lawsuit until then.”
LCR initially brought a federal lawsuit against the military’s ban on openly gay soldiers in 2004, and on September 9 of this year, Judge Virginia Phillips ruled DADT unconstitutional in a California courtroom. The Department of Justice appealed the ruling, while LCR attorneys fought to keep Phillips’s injunction of the policy. The Supreme Court ruled November 12 that DADT would remain in effect while the appeals process proceeds.
Everything changed this Saturday, when the Senate, following the House, managed to overturn the policy through legislation. But the policy remains in effect until military leaders develop a plan to implement it. President Obama told The Advocate he hopes this will take months, not years.
Kennedy doesn’t think the Department of Justice will proceed with their appeal now that DADT has been repealed by Congress — Kennedy believes the White House will send a letter to the DOJ telling their attorneys to not follow through with the case. “The Department of Justice probably won’t waste their time,” she says.
But LCR will not withdraw their suit until they’re certain that gay people can serve openly. “We’re holding off on the slim chance that this isn’t enforced so we’ll have recourse,” Kennedy says. “For all intents and purposes, it’s a moot point. We’re just waiting on technicalities.”
Even though the lawsuit is most likely no longer necessary, LCR takes pride in the pressure it put on Congress to take action.
“We’re really excited [about Obama signing the repeal],” Kennedy says. “It’s also exciting to think our lawsuit definitely was a concern [with Congress and the president] and it was one of the reasons they acted.”