DADT Setback

The Federal Court of Appeals has issued a setback to the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that the military did not violate the constitutional rights of 12 gay and lesbian servicemembers when it discharged them. The First Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Boston, had been told that under the landmark Supreme Court sodomy ruling that said gays are entitled to equal protection under the law the 12 should be reinstated.

The former servicemembers, all of whom had served during the current war on terror, were represented by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ punishes gay, lesbian and bisexual service members . . . for their sexual orientation and for their private, constitutionally protected conduct,” SLDN told the court when it heard arguments in the case last year. “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.”

Legislation to repeal DADT is currently before Congress, but a vote is not expected on the issue during this session.