Nearly 128 Hours Later ...

Posted by Chris Geidner
October 17, 2010 10:55 PM |

At 2:30 p.m. PT Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips will hold a hearing to determine whether the government is correct that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy needs to stay in effect while the government appeals her ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that DADT is unconstitutional.

The technical issue being considered is whether a stay should be issued that will put a hold, in effect, on the injunction she issued on October 12 that stopped all enforcement of DADT as a result of the LCR case. 

The next day, Defense Secretary Report Gates addressed his concern about the ruling. The AP, via Politico, reported that Gates said that changing DADT "is an action that requires careful preparation and a lot of training. ... It has enormous consequences for our troops."  

On October 14, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley filed a declaration in Phillips's court stating, "Requiring the Department to cease all enforcement of DADT, immediately and worldwide, will cause significant disruptions to the force in the short term and, in the long term, would likely undermine the effectiveness of any transition to accepting open service by gays and lesbians in the event the law is repealed or eliminated."

The declaration was filed in conjunction with the government's formal request for a stay, in which it argued that "immediate implementation of the injunction would disrupt [the Pentagon working group's DADT repeal implementation] review and frustrate the Secretary’s ability to recommend and implement policies that would ensure that any repeal of DADT does not irreparably harm the government's critical interests in military readiness, combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, morale, good order, discipline, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces."

Stanley, one day later, however, confirmed in a memorandum released by the Department of Defense that "immediate implementation of the injunction" was occurring. Stanley stated the terms of the injunction -- including immediate suspension of "any investigation, or discharge, separation or other proceeding" begun under DADT. He noted that a stay had been requested, then wrote, "In the interim, the Department of Defense will abide by the terms of the injunction."

The Palm Center -- a research center based out of the University of California, Santa Barbara, that has provided significant research on DADT in the past decade -- has focused in on Gates's comments about the impact of stopping DADT enforcement by setting up a website that aims at tracking its impact.

Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, told Metro Weekly on Sunday night, "My sense -- from the moment Secretary Gates made the remark -- is that the Pentagon is saying it can't do something that it is already doing."

This is a point that he and others would argue was confirmed by Stanley's memorandum of October 15 and that Palm hopes to drive home with the new site.

With a running timer, now reading 127:55:00, the site -- Enormous Consequences -- details the number of incidents reported showing what it calls the "Consequences of Allowing Gays to Serve Openly," namely unit cohesion or disciplinary problems, resignations, privacy issues or any other problems that arise during the injunction.

When questioned about the site and whether Gates was referring to "consequences" occurring literally in the hours following the end of the enforcement of the policy, Belkin replied, "If he’s saying he doesn’t expect consequences in the first week, when exactly will the enormous consequences become clear? When was he referring to?"

To track any incidents, Palm has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking any relevant information and will track any news suggesting such consequences.

Asked if Palm will know of the incidents that may occur, Belkin said, "To me, 'enormous consequences' means something that you can see."

The tally for all of the areas of possible incidents was at zero on Sunday evening. Belkin said he didn't know whether he would need to update the site, but said, "I've never seen any other organization have any negative consequences of lifting a gay ban.

"As a social scientist, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see the data, but I don't think we'll see any," he added. "I think we would have seen them already."

When Phillips begins her hearing Monday, the timer will read 146:30:00.

And if Phillips, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit or, ultimately, U.S. Supreme Court issue the stay requested by the government, Belkin -- ever the researcher -- said, "If and when that happens, we'll turn off the [timer] and look at this as one discrete period, and look to see if there were any negative consequences during this period."

The government has not yet said what it will do in the case the stay is granted, but Stanley said in his October 15 memorandum that he "will issue additional guidance" if that happens.


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