On Sept. 9, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, ruled that the U.S. Military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was unconstitutional.
Following this ruling another major step has been made in the fight for equality for gays and lesbians in the armed services.
According to Defense.gov, Oct. 19, “The Pentagon has advised recruiting commands that they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruit candidates.” However, there are stipulations to the ruling. When a person is being recruited, for example, the recruiter cannot ask if the candidate is gay and if one admits to being gay and they qualify “under normal recruitment guidelines” then their application can still be processed.
With so many strides being made for the equal rights of gays and lesbians in the military, there is no telling what will come next.
It is outrageous that people who willingly want to serve their country cannot do so because of their sexual orientation. With the Pentagon deciding to recruit gays and lesbians it shows the military is complying with the ruling as well as making progress in its efforts for equality.
However, there is still a ways to go. Recruiters have also been advised that they must inform the candidate it is possible that the ban could be reversed and their applications denied at anytime. Service members who are now currently enlisted are highly recommended not to reveal their sexual orientation in order to avoid discharge if the law is reinstated. This could happen if the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decides to lift the ban.
Even so, according to The Washington Post, some gay activist groups are planning to send people to enlist to “test” the Pentagon’s announcement.
But that will no longer be necessary. According to the New York Times, just one day after the Pentagon was willing to abide by Phillips’ ruling, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court decided to block the lower court ruling and temporarily halted the ban on the controversial policy.
In retrospect, this latest setback just makes one think that every time we make a giant leap forward, in the end there is always something pushing us two giant steps back.