U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips gave LGBT service members and their allies the best post-Coming Out Day gift they could have wished for on Tuesday: A ruling that potentially abolishes the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Phillips, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, ordered the United States Department of Defense “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding related to DADT.”
“U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ landmark ruling was widely cheered by gay rights organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Obama and Washington politics could not,” the San Francisco Chronicle asserted.
Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, was the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case, along with the Log Cabin Republicans, who filed the 2004 lawsuit that resulted in Phillips’ decision.
The order, as written by Phillips, applies across the military, but Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s Legal Director Aaron Tax advised active duty service members not to come out yet, as the Justice Department has 60 days to appeal the decision and has indicated it is currently weighing whether to do so.
“The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress,” said Tax in a statement released after the ruling. “Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time. Anyone in the armed forces with questions or concerns should call our hotline.”