Military Court Overturns
December 8, 2004
By Doreen Brandt 365Gay.com Washington Bureau
Washington—In a case that could
have broad implications for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ a military appeals
court has overturned the conviction of a soldier for consensual sodomy.
Although the case involved a male Army specialist who was
convicted of engaging in oral sex with a female civilian in a military
barracks, the appeals court cited last year’s Supreme Court ruling last year
that struck down the Texas anti-gay sodomy statute.
The military court’s ruling was made public today and
is believed to be the first time that a military court has upheld the right of
consenting adults to engage in oral sex in private.
“The Army court’s decision is an encouraging, and
important, first step in recognizing service members’ privacy rights,”
said C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network. “Private, consensual conduct in the bedroom has no impact on the
There are at least thirteen other cases in the military
criminal appeals process involving service members who have been convicted of
consensual sodomy. In the military, every conviction of consensual sodomy,
even between husband and wife, carries a penalty of up to five years
“This ruling undercuts the premise of ‘Don’t Ask,
Don’t Tell’,” said Washington lawyer David Sheldon, who represents some
of the soldiers fighting their dismissal from the armed forces because of gay
Earlier this week 12 lesbian and gay veterans discharged
under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ filed suit in Federal Court in Boston
seeking reinstatement in the Armed Forces. Each served during the current war
on terror, but were dismissed once the military discovered they were gay.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit
in Philadelphia ruled that law schools have a right to bar military recruiters
from their campuses as a way of protesting the Pentagon policy on gays.
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