The Log Cabin Republicans don’t get a lot of credit for championing the cause of gay and lesbian rights within the Republican Party — in part because the party of Lincoln has not exactly been "good" on this particular civil rights issue.
But the lawsuit filed by the group to challenge the federal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy—Log Cabin Republicans v. United States—has developed into a meaningful challenge to rules that have served as vehicles for discriminating against gays and lesbians in the military.
Last month, US District Judge Virginia Phillips, a Bill Clinton appointee to the federal bench in California, ruled that the policy violated service members’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech and Fifth Amendment right to due process.
On Tuesday, Judge Phillips ordered the Pentagon to stop enforcing the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, a move that effectively ends the ban on openly gay troops.
The permanent injunction orders the military "immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced" under the policy.
The lawsuit by the Log Cabin Republicans was backed by the group’s "Pro Defense, Pro Repeal" campaign, which was aimed at conservatives.
"After finding in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ violates servicemembers’ First and Fifth Amendment rights, a world-wide injunction was the only reasonable solution," argued Christian Berle, deputy executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. "These soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our Constitution. It is imperative that their constitutional freedoms be protected as well. This decision is also a victory for all who support a strong national defense. No longer will our military be compelled to discharge servicemembers with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination. The United States is stronger because of this injunction, and Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have brought the case that made it possible."
The Log Cabin Republicans should be proud.
They deserve credit for pushing th issue legally and politically at a point when many leading Republicans remain opposed to gay and lesbian rights initiatives, and when the signals from the Obama administration was often been mixed.
Credit also goes to the group Servicemembers United, the group formed in 2005 by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in order to overturn "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."
Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and member of Log Cabin Republicans, served as the named plaintiff in the lawsuit.