As many expected, the Obama administration formally appealed Tuesday’s federal court ruling that struck down Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. They requested an emergency stay to block Judge Virginia Phillips’ injunction halting enforcement of the policy.
Phillips’ injunction put the Obama administration in an awkward position since repeal of DADT was a major campaign promise running up to the 2008 election. President Obama reiterated his stance during this year’s State of the Union address, saying, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”
The requisite phrase there is “work with Congress.” President Obama has repeatedly stated his intention to halt DADT, but only through Congress and not by executive order or through the courts.
The administration’s appeal of Tuesday’s ruling drew immediate rebukes from LGBT rights groups, especially from the Log Cabin Republicans.
“We are not surprised by the government’s action, as it repeats the broken promises and empty words from President Obama avowing to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ while at the same directing his Justice Department to defend this unconstitutional policy,” said Dan Woods, the attorney representing the Log Cabin Republicans in their suit against the policy. The group filed suit in federal district court in 2004 and the case went to trial in July of this year.
The Human Rights Campaign had a more tame response, calling the administration’s actions “disappointing,” then focusing on the future.
“There is one simple way to put the endless legal wrangling behind us and do what the President and the American people want to strengthen our military: the administration and Congress need to finish the legislative work on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal after the election,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in an official statement. “The interests of the administration, the military, and most importantly the American people are best served by doing the hard work of enacting a durable legislative repeal of this discriminatory law.”
Legislative repeal is not on the minds of the Log Cabin Republicans, who are vowing to fight the appeal.
“Now that the government has filed a request for a stay, we will oppose it vigorously because brave, patriotic gays and lesbians are serving in our armed forces to fight for all of our constitutional rights while the government is denying them theirs,” said Woods.