U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips has suspended enforcement of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as a result of her earlier opinion in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that the policy is unconstitutional.
Ordering the government “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding” begun under DADT, Phillips’s permanent injunction is about as broad an order as she could have issued in the case.
The government has 60 days — until Monday, December 13, because the 60th day falls on a weekend — to appeal the trial court decision. In the interim, the government could seek a stay of Phillips’s decision from Phillips, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit or, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement, “This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking.”
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called for the administration not to appeal Phillips’s ruling.
“The administration should comply with her order and stop enforcing this unconstitutional, unconscionable law that forces brave lesbian and gay Americans to serve in silence,” he said. “The President has said this law harms our national security and we believe it would be a mistake to appeal the decision. Each additional day that this unjust law remains in force is one more day the federal government is complicit in discrimination.”
In a move expected by most legal observers, the U.S. Department of Justice this afternoon filed notices of appeal in two cases striking down the federal definition of marriage, contained in the Defense of Marriage Act, as unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro had ruled on July 8 in the cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services, that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional on several grounds, finding that the marriage definition violated the equal protection and due process guarantees, as well as the Spending Clause and Tenth Amendment.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which argued the Gill case on behalf of the plaintiffs, issued a statement moments after the government’s filing.
“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director, said in the statement. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”
The filing of the notice means that the record of the trial court case will be sent to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Once the record is complete, DOJ will have 40 days to file its brief. GLAD or Massachusetts, depending on the case, will then have 30 days to file its brief. The government then has 14 days to file a reply brief.
So Obama must be a bigot for supporting the Constitutionality of DOMA, right? I mean if you don’t support gay marriage you are labeled a “bigot”. Consistency, people!