The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has granted the government’s motion to dismiss in Cook v. Rumsfeld, a constitutional challenge to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. The decision, from Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., was released on April 24.
U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. on Monday dismissed the suit filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, based in Washington, D.C.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” has been upheld by appeals courts in several other jurisdictions.
In his ruling, O’Toole cited the authority given to Congress in establishing the country’s military policies.
“Deference to Congressional judgment is of even greater importance in a case such as this one where the legislation challenged was enacted pursuant to Congress’ authority over the national military forces,” O’Toole wrote.
“In Congress, there were hearings by committees of both Houses at which the arguments for and against the policy were aired and debated. The resulting legislation was the end product of a focused process of debate and deliberation.”
One of the reasons the service members filed the lawsuit in Boston is because the appeals court here — the 1st Circuit — has never been asked to rule in a case involving the policy. Steven Ralls, a spokesman for the servicemembers network, said they would likely appeal the ruling, although a final decision has not yet been made.
“We’re obviously disappointed in the court’s decision,” said Ralls.
Obviously this is a significant setback to overturn this Clinton-era policy. There is legislation slowly gaining traction in Congress to overturn the ban. To pass, that would require Republican votes. To secure Republican votes, that would require a Republican gay organization that has some clout on Capitol Hill. It might also be nice to have traditionally Democrat gay organizations (HRC, NGLTF, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund) actually put some skin in the game and (*gasp*) meet and donate to Republicans on this issue. But alas, the fight for gay marriage and the ignoring of political reality trumps all in our community.
But hey, at least the SLDN had actual names of plantiffs in their lawsuit, unlike the early public relations ejaculators over at Log Cabin.