US judge says she will deny stay on gay military ruling

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The US District Judge who ruled last week that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be immediately repealed has indicated she will deny government requests to stay her order.

Judge Virginia Phillips, of California, is expected to issue a ruling today after the government asked her to stay the ruling while it appeals.

AP reports that at the start of a hearing yesterday, she said: “My tentative ruling is to deny the application for a stay.”

She added that the government had not shown that her order would harm troops or impede new regulations for the military to cope with the change.

Judge Phillips’ injunction told the Pentagon to immediately stop enforcing the 1993 law and ordered the Defence Department to halt any current investigation or discharge relating to a soldier’s sexual orientation.

The Obama administration says it wants to repeal the law, but believes repeal should take place in Congress, rather than the courts. A review of the policy is to be completed in December.

The government is expected to appeal to another court if Judge Phillips refuses to stay her order.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell allows gay soldiers to serve in the military but they must keep their sexual orientation secret. Superiors are barred from asking about whether soldiers are gay but they can be fired if they come out or are outed. This includes telling colleagues about their partners.

Judge Phillips made the ruling in a case brought by gay Republican group Log Cabin Republicans. She ruled that the policy violated the First and Fifth Amendments and wrote that it “irreparably injures servicemembers by infringing their fundamental rights”.

An estimated 13,500 soldiers have been dismissed under the law since 1993.

Opponents to repealing the law say it will harm recruitment, cohesion and morale at a time when the military is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This week, the Pentagon said it was complying with the order but warned gay soldiers not to declare their sexual orientation while the legal situation is unclear.