Court Temporarily Reinstates 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Now, to the latest in what has become an outright legal saga - the future of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the law that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military.
Last week, the Pentagon said it would abide by a lower court decision banning the military from enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But now, a federal appeals court in California issued an emergency stay on that injunction, essentially putting Don't Ask, Don't Tell back into effect.
Here to help us sort out all of these is NPR's national security correspondent Rachel Martin. And, Rachel, does this mean Don't Ask, Don't Tell is back?
RACHEL MARTIN: Well, it is a little confusing, Melissa. This whole back and forth has been about trying to figure out what the military should do while this particular case makes its way through the appeals process.
Should the military abide by this injunction that was issued on October 12th by a district court judge and allow gays to serve openly? Or is that too chaotic since the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy could ultimately be upheld in the appeals court and things would have to go back to the way they were under Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
So that's what - been an issue. The government has argued that they could -that by not staying this injunction would create a lot of chaos. And they asked the appeals court to issue that stay, delaying the injunction, keeping things status quo. And that is, indeed, what the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to do.
BLOCK: What reasons did the Ninth Circuit give for issuing this stay?
MARTIN: Not a lot. Essentially, they were agreeing with the government's arguments, and those were mainly that not issuing a stay was simply going to be too chaotic.
This is a situation where in the past 24 hours we've seen people showing up at recruiting stations, people self-identifying as homosexuals saying I want to be part of the U.S. military. Now, they're being turned away presumably because the decision has been reversed. This is the kind of chaos the government wanted to prevent.
They also took up the issue of jurisdiction. They argued that this is one lower court judge who doesn't necessarily have the power to issue a ruling that affects the entire U.S. military since the case was brought by only one group, the Log Cabin Republicans, which doesn't actually represent the entire U.S. military. So there is a jurisdiction issue as well.
And they also argued that if the court didn't issue a stay, that this is simply going to be too chaotic, as I mentioned, and that was a risk that they wanted to take.
BLOCK: Yeah. And we also heard about people who had - soldiers who have been discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell who were reenlisting today. Who knows what their status is right now?
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, have both said they support repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. What's the plan for getting rid of that policy?
MARTIN: That's exactly what they're working on. That's the reason the government said they wanted to delay the injunction. The Pentagon is working on its own internal review of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
The top military brass and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have both come out saying that they support repealing this policy, but they want to do it in an orderly way. They want to finish their internal review. That includes a survey of more than 400,000 service members. That comes out on December 1st.
BLOCK: Okay. NPR's national security correspondent Rachel Martin. Rachel, thanks very much.
MARTIN: Thanks very much, Melissa.
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