Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the Federal District Court for the Central District of California suspended enforcement of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law yesterday and ordered the military to discontinue any investigations on homosexuals serving in the military.
Judge Phillips declared the law unconstitutional in her order, claiming it “infringes the fundamental rights of United States service members and prospective service members,” as it violates the troops’ American rights to due process and freedom of speech.
DADT prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. army.
The case was brought to the courts in 2004 when Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights organization, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.
Around 70 percent of Americans oppose DADT, according to the New York Times. President Barak Obama and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates helped write a bill to lift the ban last month. The bill passed in the U.S. House but was blocked in the Senate by Republicans.
The law was instituted during the Clinton Administration in order to prevent the military from actively seeking out gays in service.
Conservative Americans have issued requests to President Obama to appeal the judge’s ruling, “This decision could have a negative impact on military and family readiness since the Department of Defense is unprepared to address the issues that are bound to arise from such a hasty change,” Howard McKeon, a Republican House Representative from California, told the Christian Post.
Secretary Gates has ordered a study due December 1 to examine how troops and their families feel about the policy.
Amid conservative opposition, the government is expected to appeal Judge Phillips’ ruling. It has 60 days to file such an appeal.
Since the law was enacted in 1993, around 14,000 gay men and women were discharged from the service once fellow troops became aware of their sexual orientation. The Associated Press reported that for the time being, gay rights groups have advised gay troops to not reveal their identities.