WASHINGTON — Saying it will appeal a ruling striking down the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military, the Obama administration Thursday asked the federal judge who issued the ruling for an emergency stay of her decision.
In a 48-page court filing, Clifford L. Stanley, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, argued that the military, particularly in wartime, should not be required to “suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years.”
Stanley said the injunction would disrupt efforts to prepare for a more orderly repeal of the policy.
Stanley’s declaration was the centerpiece of a set of administration filings before Judge Virginia A. Phillips of U.S. District Court. Last month, she declared the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law to be unconstitutional, and earlier this week she issued an injunction requiring the military to stop enforcing it immediately.
The Log Cabin Republicans, the group that brought the lawsuit against the policy, vowed to fight the administration’s appeal of Phillips’ ruling before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the request for an emergency stay of the injunction.
“We are not surprised by the government’s action, as it repeats the broken promises and empty words from President Obama avowing to end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ while at the same directing his Justice Department to defend this unconstitutional policy,” said Dan Woods, a lawyer representing the group. “Now that the government has filed a request for a stay, we will oppose it vigorously because brave, patriotic gays and lesbians are serving in our armed forces to fight for all of our constitutional rights while the government is denying them theirs.”
Obama campaigned against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law and has asked Congress to repeal it, but his efforts have been criticized as being too slow and insufficient by supporters of equal rights for gay men and lesbians.