US judge upholds order to end military gay ban
A federal US judge upheld an order stopping the US military from barring openly gay people serving in its ranks on Tuesday, rejecting arguments from US administration lawyers who wanted the ban to hold.
US District Judge Virginia Phillips said the US Justice Department had failed to make a compelling case for lifting the order she made last week to suspend the controversial “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
“None of the factors the court weighs in considering whether to enter a stay favours granting a stay here,” she said in a ruling, exactly a week after she struck down the ban on homosexuals serving openly in uniform.
In a six-page decision, she rejected US authorities’ argument that suspending the ban harmed military readiness and unit cohesion.
“They had the chance to introduce evidence to that effect at trial,” Phillips said. “Defendants did not do so. The evidence they belatedly present now does not meet their burden to obtain a stay.”
Phillips, who sits in a federal court in California, last week ordered the government to immediately suspend the rule, which requires gay troops to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion.
Although President Barack Obama has called for scrapping the 1993 law and tried to persuade Congress to end the ban, the court order has put his administration in a bind as it tries to carry out a review of the issue.
Obama had ordered a year-long review of how ending the ban would affect military readiness, effectiveness and unit cohesion, which is due to be completed on December 1.
Meanwhile Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday voiced support for gay and lesbian youth on the heels of a string of suicides by young people who were bullied about their sexuality.
“Like millions of Americans, I was terribly saddened to learn of the recent suicides of several teenagers across our country after being bullied because they were gay or because people thought they were gay,” Clinton said in a video statement.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to the hurt caused by discrimination and prejudice and we have lost many young people over the years to suicide. These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred,” the top American diplomat, and former first lady and ex-senator, said.
“I have a message for all the young people out there who are being bullied, or who feel alone and find it hard to imagine a better future: First of all, hang in there and ask for help.
“Your life is so important: to your family, your friends, and to your country. And there is so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally: there are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and make your contributions. And these opportunities will only increase,” she said.
“Because the story of America is the story of people coming together to tear down barriers, stand up for rights, and insist on equality, not only for themselves but for all people,” Clinton said, adding: “in the process, they create a community of support and solidarity that endures.”
In one of the highest-profile cases, two undergraduates at a US university were arrested after a fellow student they allegedly filmed during a gay encounter and then broadcast on the Internet killed himself by jumping into the Hudson River.
The tragic incident appeared to be the latest in a growing trend of sophisticated technology and social networking sites being used to give old-fashioned bullying a vicious new twist.—AFP