California Judge Rules ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Unconstitutional

On September 9, 2010, a federal court in Riverside, California, ruled that the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly, is unconstitutional, as it violates the Fifth and First Amendments. The U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, a 1999 Clinton appointee, has issued a permanent injunction barring its enforcement. In her 85 page ruling, Judge Phillips states that the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell infringes the fundamental right of United States service members in many ways…The Act denies homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces the right to enjoy intimate conduct in their personal relationships. …to speak about their loved ones while serving their country in uniform…it discharges them for including information in a personal communication from which an unauthorized reader might discern their homosexuality.” The government has a right to appeal the ruling. Officials at the Department of Justice said they are still reviewing the decision. The case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a political organization advocating equal rights for gays and lesbians. Full article: ABC News.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not enforce the protections that prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. However, with the California decision declaring the policy unconstitutional and recent Presidential support to repeal the Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, many Gay and Lesbian Organizations are hopeful that the discrimination based on sexual orientation will be prohibited in all work places. To date, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Please visit the EEOC’s website for further information: www.eeoc.gov/policy/vii.html.

The attorneys at Leeds Morelli & Brown, P.C., dedicate a large amount of their practice to employment discrimination claims. For any questions, contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-800-585-4658. Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C.’s website is located at www.lmblaw.com.