Friday, September 10, 2010

Ruling on military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy adds to gay rights momentum - By David G. Savage and Ken Dilanian, Tribune Washington Bureau – September 10, 2010 – Los Angeles Times

Activists sense victory is near. Will Congress or the courts make the final call?

Reporting from Washington — A ruling by a federal judge in California declaring the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional adds to growing momentum to end the nation's ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, and the only question may be whether Congress or the courts makes the decision.

In May, the House voted to repeal the ban, as did the Senate Armed Services Committee, and President Obama said he looked forward to signing a bill repealing the ban. "This legislation will make our armed forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity," he said.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the repeal "the right thing to do."…

… In July, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in Boston ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional because it denied equal federal benefits to gay and lesbian couples who were legally married in Massachusetts.

In August, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage as unjustified because the right to marry is fundamental.

In Thursday's decision, Phillips followed a similar path by concluding that the military's policy against gays and lesbians could not be justified by the evidence presented.

While all three decisions face appeals, they increase the odds the Supreme Court will be called upon to decide squarely whether the Constitution permits laws that discriminate against persons based on their sexual orientation…

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