Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Monday, June 6, 2005
A homosexual advocacy group, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, filed a legal challenge last December, in an attempt to overturn the Clinton-era law.
On Monday, a federal judge in Boston will hear arguments on the government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed on behalf of 12 former service members discharged from the military under the homosexual ban.
SLDN, which is representing the plaintiffs, argues that a "gay ban" punishes service members for their "private, constitutionally protected conduct."
According to the lawsuit, the ban denies homosexuals "the right of privacy, equal protection of the law and freedom of speech."
Monday's hearing is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. in federal district court in Boston.
During his presidential campaign in 1992, President Bill Clinton advocated repealing the ban on homosexuals in the military. But in November 1993, Clinton signed a law reaffirming the long-standing principle that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.
The 1993 law says there is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces; it says "success in combat" requires strong "unit cohesion" and "bonds of trust" among individual service members; and it says the presence of "persons who demonstrate a propensity of intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability."
The law notes that "the prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service."
Contrary to popular assumption, Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is not part of the law he signed in 1993. According to the Center for Military Readiness, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an enforcement policy, not a law, that has misled many homosexuals about their ability to serve.
The Center for Military Readiness notes that laws passed by Congress are enforced with executive regulations; but Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" enforcement policy is more lenient than the 1993 law -- and thus, an attempt to circumvent it.
Since the 1993 law took effect, more than thousand men and women have been discharged because of their sexual orientation, SLDN says.
In March, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill to repeal the military's ban on homosexuals serving in the U.S. military.
See Earlier Story:
Congressional Democrats Seek End to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (13 April 2005)