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Federal court
upholds military's antigay policy

Federal court
upholds military's antigay policy


A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the military's antigay "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

A federal judge with the U.S. district court for the district of Massachusetts on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by 12 service members challenging the military's antigay "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The ban, established in 1993 under the Clinton administration, prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or engaging in homosexual activity.

The service members had argued that the policy violates their constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, and equal protection under the law. However, in court documents the Bush administration argued that Congress, in approving "don't ask, don't tell," recognized that the military is characterized by its own rules and traditions, including some restrictions that would not be accepted in civilian society.

The policy "rationally furthers the government's interest in maintaining unit cohesion, reducing sexual tensions, and promoting personal privacy," the government argued.

U.S. district judge George A. O'Toole Jr. on Monday dismissed the suit, brought by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on behalf of the 12. "We are disappointed in the court's decision and are reviewing all possible responses," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director for SLDN. "We continue to believe the military's ban is un-American and unconstitutional. There is no reason lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans should be prohibited from serving our country."

"Don't ask, don't tell" has been upheld by appeals courts in several other jurisdictions. One of the reasons SLDN filed the lawsuit in Boston is that the appeals court there--the first circuit--has never been asked to rule in a case involving the policy. (AP, with additional reporting by The Advocate)

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