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Court orders injunction against ‘Don’t Ask’ enforcement

Justice Dept. has 60 days to appeal decision

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A California federal court on Tuesday granted an injunction against the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” throughout the United States and across the globe.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips confirmed her earlier opinion in September against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the case of Log Cabin v. United States by granting an immediate and permanent injunction barring the U.S. government from enforcing the law. Additionally, the court ordered the suspension of all pending proceedings and investigations under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

In her injunction, Phillips reiterates that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” violates the free speech and due process rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members under the First and Fifth Amendments. Phillips says her injunction “permanently enjoins” the U.S. government “from enforcing or applying the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Act and implementing regulations, against any person under their jurisdiction or command.”

The Justice Department has 60 days to determine whether or not to appeal the decision to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokesperson, said the U.S. government is reviewing the ruling.

President Obama has pledged to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Many opponents of the law, including members of Congress, have urged the president not to appeal the court decision.

During a press conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs deferred comment on the injunction to the Justice Department.

“Obviously there have been a number of court cases that have ruled in favor of plaintiffs in this case,” Gibbs added. “And the President will continue to work as hard as he can to change the law that he believes is fundamentally unfair.”

Christian Berle, acting executive director for the National Log Cabin Republicans, which filed the lawsuit in 2004, said the court’s decision is the only “reasonable solution” in how to handle “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the wake of the ruling finding the law violated service members’ constitutional rights.

“These soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our Constitution,” he said. “It is imperative that their constitutional freedoms be protected as well.”

Berle added the injunction strengthens national defense because the U.S. government is no longer compelled to “discharge service members with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination.”

Francine Minadeo, a spokesperson for White & Case LLP, which represented Log Cabin in the case, said the order has no stay of injunction and the firm doesn’t know whether the government will appeal the decision.

Aaron Tax, legal director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said his also organization applauds the ruling, but warned gay, lesbian and bisexual service members in the U.S. military against making their sexual orientation public in the wake of the Phillips’ order.

“This order will likely be appealed by the Justice Department and brought to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where her decision may well be reversed,” Tax said. “Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time.”

Greg Rinckey, an attorney with Tully-Rinckey, which handles “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” cases, also said LGBT service members remain “in danger” if they decide to come out.

“I envision there will be an appeal filed [Tuesday or Wednesday] requesting an injunction for a stay on it, so it’s definitely not safe to come out now,” Rinckey said.

Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and sole named veteran plaintiff in the lawsuit, called the order “another historic and courageous step in the right direction.”

“While this is certainly news to be celebrated, we would also advise caution in advance of a potential stay from the Ninth Circuit,” he said. “If the appellate court wishes to put itself on the right side of history, however, it will allow this sound and long-over due decision to remain in effect.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. El Dorado

    October 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Okay. so now that the courts have stepped in again can we finally get a damn vote on ENDA before the Dem majority gets kicked out of Congress!!! How much longer will you hold it hostage!

  2. equal

    October 13, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    El. It may be that, as the DADT vote revealed, not a single republican will vote for equality, including ENDA.

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NCAA adopts new policy amid fervor over transgender athletes

Sport-by-sport approach requires certain levels of testosterone

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NCAA, gay news, Washington Blade
The NCAA has adopted new policy amid a fervor over transgender athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it has adopted new procedures on competition of transgender athletes, creating a “sport-by-sport” approach that also requires documentation of testosterone levels across the board amid a fervor of recently transitioned swimmers breaking records in women’s athletics.

The NCAA said in a statement its board of governors voted on Wednesday in support of the “sport-by-sport” approach, which the organization says “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”

Although the policy defers to the national governing bodies for individual sports, it also requires transgender athletes to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. The new policy, which consistent with rules for the U.S. Olympics, is effective 2022, although implementation is set to begin with the 2023-24 academic year, the organization says.

John DeGioia, chair of the NCAA board and Georgetown president, said in a statement the organization is “steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports.”

“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia said.

More specifically, starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections, the organizational. These athletes, according to the NCAA, are also required to document testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections.

In terms of jurisdiction, the national governing bodies for individual sports are charged determines policies, which would be under ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA, the organizational says. If there is no policy for a sport, that sport’s international federation policy or previously established International Olympics Committee policy criteria would be followed.

The NCAA adopts the policy amid controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smashing records in women’s swimming. Thomas, which once competed as a man, smashed two national records and in the 1,650-yard freestyle placed 38 seconds ahead of closest competition. The new NCAA policy appears effectively to sideline Thomas, who has recently transitioned and unable to show consistent levels of testosterone.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, a coalition of 16 LGBTQ groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally, this week sent to a letter to the collegiate organization, urging the organizations strengthen non-discrimination protections as opposed to weakening them. The new policy, however, appears to head in other direction, which the LGBTQ groups rejected in the letter.

“While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play,” the letter says. “This would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that opt not to enact inclusive policies.”

JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement after the NCAA announcement the new policy was effectively passing the buck.

“If the NCAA is committed to ensuring an environment of competition that is safe, healthy, and free from discrimination, they cannot dodge the question of how to ensure transgender athletes can participate safely,” Winterhof said. “That is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide spectrum of advocates are urging them to readopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitution to ensure the Association is committed to enforcing the level playing field and inclusive policies they say their values require. Any policy language is only as effective as it is enforceable, and with states passing anti-transgender sports bans, any inclusive policy is under immediate threat. We are still reviewing the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion and how it will impact each and every transgender athlete.”

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Transgender rights group’s Los Angeles office receives bomb threat

[email protected] Coalition evacuated

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(Public domain photo)

A bomb threat was phoned in Wednesday afternoon to the Wilshire Boulevard Koreatown offices of the [email protected] Coalition, Bamby Salcedo, the president and CEO of the non-profit organization told the Los Angeles Blade.

According to Salcedo, an unidentified male caller told the staff person who answered at approximately 3 p.m., while delivering the threat said; “You’re all going to die.” The staff immediately evacuated everyone from their offices and then contacted the Los Angeles Police Department for assistance.

Officers, specialists and detectives from the Rampart Division of the LAPD responded and swept the building. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that the incident is under active investigation but would make no further comment.

On a Facebook post immediately after the incident the non-profit wrote; “To ensure the safety of our clients and staff members, we ask that you please NOT come to our office.”

In a follow-up post, Salcedo notified the organization and its clientele that the LAPD had given the all-clear and that their offices would resume normal operations Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PT.

“Thank you for your messages and concern for our staff and community,” Salcedo said.

“No amount of threats can stop us from our commitment to the TGI community,” she added.

The [email protected] Coalition was founded in 2009 by a group of transgender and gender non-conforming and intersex (TGI) immigrant women in Los Angeles as a grassroots response to address the specific needs of TGI Latino immigrants who live in the U.S.

Since then, the agency has become a nationally recognized organization with representation in 10 different states across the U.S. and provides direct services to TGI individuals in Los Angeles.

In 2015, the [email protected] Coalition identified the urgent need to provide direct services to empower TGI people in response to structural, institutional, and interpersonal violence, and the Center for Violence Prevention and Transgender Wellness was born.

Since then, the organization has secured funding from the state and local government sources as well as several private foundations and organizations to provide direct services to all TGI individuals in Los Angeles County.

The [email protected] Coalition’s primary focus is to change the landscape of access to services for TGI people and provide access to comprehensive resource and services that will improve the quality of life of TGI people.

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Jim Obergefell announces bid for seat in Ohio state legislature

Marriage plaintiff moves on to new endeavor

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First Amendment Defense Act, gay news, Washington Blade
Jim Obergefell has announced he'd seek a seat in the Ohio state legislature.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the litigation that ensured same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide, announced on Tuesday he’d pursue a new endeavor and run for a seat in the state legislature in his home state of Ohio.

“You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,” Obergefell said. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just.”

Obergefell, who claims residency in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a seat to represent 89th Ohio District, which comprises Erie and Ottawa Counties. A key portion of his announcement was devoted to vowing to protect the Great Lakes adjacent to Ohio.

“We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake, and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” Obergefell said.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the consolidated litigation of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell was widower to John Arthur, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was seeking the right to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate. The ruling in the consolidated cases ensured same-sex couples would enjoy the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement on his candidacy.

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