October 12, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
21 senators urge Obama not to appeal ‘Don’t Ask’ ruling

A group of 21 U.S. senators on Tuesday sent a letter to the U.S Attorney General Eric Holder asking him not to appeal a recent ruling by a California federal court striking down “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillbrand (D-N.Y.) had already issued the letter to the Justice Department last month following U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips’ ruling against the law. The letter sent on Tuesday is identical, but has the names of 19 additional Democratic senators.

“In light of important national security concerns, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity at the Department of Justice, refrain from appealing this decision or the permanent injunction granted against this law,” the senators write.

On Tuesday, Phillips issued an injunction prohibiting the federal government from enforcing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a result of her ruling in September. The Justice Department has 60 days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.

The full text of the letter follows:

October 12, 2010
Dear Mr. Attorney General,

We are writing to bring to your attention the recently issued decision of Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the United States District Court of the Central District of California in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, which declared that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) underlying law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and free speech, thereby rendering DADT unconstitutional.  In light of important national security concerns, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity at the Department of Justice, refrain from appealing this decision or the permanent injunction granted against this law.

The following quote from the judge’s decision captures the overwhelming reason why the decision should stand:  “Among those discharged were many with critically needed skills … Far from furthering the military’s readiness, the discharge of these service men and women had a direct and deleterious effect on this governmental interest.”  As one of many criteria that the Justice Department will examine in deciding whether to appeal the permanent injunction to this policy, we ask that you examine whether or not an appeal furthers a legitimate governmental interest.  We would say any appeal does not.

Additionally, DADT harms military readiness, as well as the morale and the cohesiveness of our armed forces, at a time when our military’s resources are strained and unity is critically important.  For every person discharged after ten years of service, six new servicemembers would need to be recruited to recover the level of experience lost by that discharge. This not only weakens our military, but neither is it an effective use of our government resources or taxpayer monies.

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have all publicly advocated for the repeal of this harmful law.  There is no legal or military justification and not one shred of credible evidence that supports continuing the discriminatory DADT law, and considering the guidance of the commander-in-chief and the nation’s top two defense officials, we urge you to refrain from seeking an appeal.  The federal court decision was a step in the right direction, and we are confident that the Senate will take the ultimate step by voting this fall on the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to permanently lift the ban on gays in the military. Although we understand that only action by Congress can bring real finality to this issue, we believe an appeal of the recent federal court decision could set back those congressional efforts.  Therefore, we request your assistance in ensuring that we can eradicate this discriminatory law permanently and urge the Justice Department to choose not to appeal any court decision that would keep this law in place.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Senators:

Udall

Gillibrand

Kerry

Schumer

Burris

Whitehouse

Landrieu

Sanders

Merkley

Shaheen

Johnson

Franken

Boxer

Feingold

Lautenberg

Durbin

Menendez

Bennet

Mikulski

Sherrod Brown

Cardin

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

2 Comments
  • At least we know who to vote for.

  • yes. I note that both of my MD senators, Cardin and Mikulski are on the list

    Got to send them a note of thanks. Do the same for you if yours are on the list. Use email or voicemail / call the office. Letters have maybe a 3 week delay due to security processing as a result of anthrax scene back in 2001.

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