Military’s Gay Ban Heads to Court
July 6, 2005
By Margo Williams
BOSTON—A federal judge in Boston
will hear arguments Friday challenging “don’t ask, don’t tell”, the
law banning gays from serving in the armed forces.
The suit says that the ban on serving openly in the
military violates their constitutional rights. The Bush administration has
asked the court to dismiss the suit.
The suit was filed last December by twelve lesbian and
gay former servicemembers who were discharged under the law after they came
Each of the 12 has served during the current war on
terror in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, according to the
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network which is representing them.
In all, they have earned more than five dozen awards,
medals and commendations.
“I felt like I was being forced to lie and having to be
dishonest,” Jen Kopfstein one of the plaintiffs told the Associated Press.
“I could never share anything about my family or my home life or even say
what I did on the weekend. It is hurtful to do that.”
Finally she could not take it any more and wrote a letter
to her commanding officer telling him she was a lesbian. She was subsequently
The lawsuit asserts that “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell’ punishes gay, lesbian and bisexual service members . . . for their
sexual orientation and for their private, constitutionally protected conduct.
As a result, it has denied and continues to deny them several Constitutional
rights, including the right of privacy, equal protection of the law, and
freedom of speech.”
Other courts have upheld the 11-year-old policy, but
those decisions came prior to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that struck down
the Texas sodomy law declaring gays and lesbians have a right to due process
under the Constitution. In its motion to quash the suit the Pentagon says that
the sodomy ruling has no bearing on the case because the 12 could abstain from
sexual activity and not reveal their sexuality.
The case could eventually reach the United States Supreme
Two other lawsuits challenging the policy have been filed
since the high court’s reversal.
Meanwhile decisions could come down at any time in two
other cases involving “don’t ask, don’t tell”. One was brought in
California by the Log Cabin Republicans, a political organization for gays.
The other was filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which generally deals
with cases involving money. That plaintiff, who was separated from the Army,
is seeking to recover his pension and is challenging the ban in the process.
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