White House: Bottom Line, ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Policy Will End, Only Question Is How

By Fred Lucas | October 13, 2010 | 5:51 PM EDT

In this Tuesday, April 16, 2010 picture, from left, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Lt. Dan Choi, Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, Capt. Jim Pietrangelo II, Cadet Mara Boyd and Petty Officer Larry Whitt, stand together after they handcuffed themselves to the fence outside the White House in Washington during a protest for gay rights. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – The injunction against enforcing the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy barring homosexuals from openly serving in the military is just one step closer to the inevitable end of the 1993 rule, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

“The recent court ruling has demonstrated to Congress that it is time to act on this policy. It has demonstrated that time is running out on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Gibbs said. “The bottom line is, this is a policy that is going to end. It’s not whether it will end, but the process by which it will end.

“The president believes the policy should change, that it’s unjust, that it discriminates, and that it harms our national security,” Gibbs continued.

“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was a directive handed down by the Clinton administration that altered the longstanding outright ban on homosexuals serving in the military, but it was not a statute approved by Congress and signed into law by the president.

On Tuesday in San Diego, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ordered the government to immediately suspend the Clinton-era policy, thus allowing homosexuals to openly serve.

The case itself puts the administration in an unusual position of the Department of Justice fulfilling its requirement to defend existing law, while President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen have formally called for changing the policy to allow homosexuals to openly serve.

The Pentagon is set to complete a study in December with suggestions on how to implement the policy without causing disruptions.

“The president believes the policy should end and the beginning of that should be done in a way that provides for a swift and orderly transition to a policy he believes is just and strengthens our national security and doesn’t discriminate,” Gibbs said. 

Gibbs referred questions to the Department of Justice as to whether the government will appeal the ruling. The Justice Department did not respond to CNSNews.com inquiries at press time.

The administration should appeal to uphold constitutional separation of powers, said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness.

“The district court order purporting to govern the military worldwide is so irregular and extreme, even the controversial Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit might reject it. The Supreme Court certainly will,” Donnelly said in a statement.

“Matters of constitutional principle and separation of powers go far beyond the question of professed homosexuals in the military,” she added.

Donnelly cited Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution that states, “The Congress shall have Power…to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”

She also referenced the 1993 law that – unlike the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy – was passed by Congress and signed into law that said “There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces.”

“Judge Phillips apparently sees herself as Supreme Judicial Commander of the U.S. Military, having reached her short-sighted conclusion after eight days of one-sided testimony from gay activists who failed to prevail in the legislative branch,” Donnelly said. “It is absurd to suggest that a rogue district judge knows more than elected members of Congress.”