Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), quickly becoming one of our favorite organizations, suffered a bit of a blow today when their case against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was dismissed before it could be fought out in court. Actually, it was a pretty big blow. Let’s not glaze over the truth.
“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ punishes gay, lesbian and bisexual service members,” responded SLDN, “for their sexual orientation and for their private, constitutionally protected conduct. As a result, it has denied and continues to deny them several Constitutional rights, including the right of privacy, equal protection of the law, and freedom of speech.”
Sounds good, right? We thought it was pretty convincing. Too bad the courts don’t agree whatsoever.
It is true that we are not lawyers, but as we are getting sued by more people than are on our holiday card list, we’ve read a legal document or two. So we read the decision on this case, or as much as we could handle reading before we wanted to go all Girl, Interrupted and start cutting ourselves, and we gathered the following:
1) Since the Lawrence vs. Texas case struck down state sodomy laws (remember that?), the plaintiffs argued that the rights to gay relationships were protected by law–to which this court basically said “You wish, sucka!”
2) The case wasn’t arguing that the rule was applied unjustly against certain people and violating individual constitutional rights, it was arguing that the rule was unconstitutional in general. And that sucks, because:
3) Congress has the right to enact a rule against gay people, or any rule against anybody, as long as that rule has “a rational relation to some legitimate end” in regards to the military. And with this, the legitimate end was explained by Colin Powell several years ago:
“To win wars, we create cohesive teams of warriors who will bond so tightly that they are prepared to go into battle and give their lives if necessary for the accomplishment of the mission and for the cohesion
of the group and for their individual buddies. We cannot allow anything to happen which would disrupt that feeling of cohesion within the force…the presence of open homosexuality would have an unacceptable detrimental and disruptive impact on the cohesion, morale, and esprit of the armed forces.”
And then the court basically said “They don’t want you in there, you stupid queers, and if you don’t like it, tough shit!”
4) Then it said some other stuff that was boring legal mumbo-jumbp citing all ther reasons that the wording of the documents was all screwy and basically shut down the case.
So what this means is this: when it comes to the military, the government can basically do what they want. If they don’t want redheads in the army, because red hair is too bright and can attract attention on the battlefield, then by golly the redheads are out. And gays boffing each other in the foxholes? Too distracting.
There are murmurs that members of Congress are going to vote on a new policy that will trump the DADT, which may be the way to go; trying to dismantle a law already in place is a ballet of legal errors and philosophical interpretations of what the definition of “is” is. But we still hand it to SLDN, they are sticking to their guns, if you will, and we hope they keep at it. The pressure can only help speed that new policy through Congress, if nothing else.