Following the lead of 69 House Democrats, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are circulating a letter and a petition urging the Justice Department not to appeal a recent court ruling which found Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unconstitutional. From the petition:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado are leading a push to urge the Department of Justice to let the ruling stand. The two senators also continue to help lead the way on repealing DADT through legislation.
Use the form to the right to join with Senator Gillibrand and Senator Udall and demand that the U.S. government not block progress and instead let the federal court’s ruling stand. Too many brave men and women have been hurt by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We must not lose one more service member because of this nonsensical law. As the judge ruled, DADT actually hurts our national security — and that is unacceptable at a time of two wars.
As Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson notes, the U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips “hasn’t yet entered judgment for the lawsuit and there is no set time for her to take that action. Once she enters judgment, the Justice Department will have 60 days to make a decision on whether or not to appeal the case to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
So far 16 senators have signed on to the letter. Last month, 56 Democrats voted for a motion to begin debate on a National Defense Authorization Act, which included the repeal amendment. Unable to garner 60 votes, it ultimately failed, forcing the Senate to take up the measure after the mid-term elections.
Some in the legal community have shied away from the tactic of asking the DOJ not to appeal a decision, since the department does have an obligation to defend existing law. But as the Palm Center noted in a recent memo, “it would be inaccurate to characterize this common practice as a mandatory requirement that DOJ must always defend federal laws in all cases, without exception.”