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DADT Repeal Effective September 20, DOMA Issues Linger

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 25, 2011 4:03 PM

The Obama Administration submitted notice to the Ninth Circuit on Friday that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would officially end on September 20. The administration completed the certification to start the 60 day enactment clock on the repeal of legislation last week.

The administration had hoped that providing the certification would put an end to the Ninth Circuit's role in the matter, but the court refused to stand down. Administering a dose of what you might call "Rolling Stones justice," the court issued a new order specifying that the military may not discharge, punish, or investigate service members for "don't ask, don't tell" violations for the duration of the policy.

The White House had asked the Ninth Circuit to let the "don't ask, don't tell" policy to remain in full effect until September 20. In a reply filed with the Ninth Circuit, the administration noted that only one person has been discharged under the law since the DADT repeal act was passed in 2010, and that service member pressed for discharge.

The court also denied a White House request to cancel a September 1 hearing, weighing the constitutionality of the policy prior to the enactment of the repeal law. Barring Supreme Court intervention in the case, a Ninth Circuit three-judge panel could issue an opinion in the case before the repeal.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy, in effect since 1993, prohibits gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. When the DADT repeal becomes effective in September, gay and lesbian service members will face a new obstacle: securing federal benefits. The Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the Defense Department from extending benefits to gay couples, even if they are legally married.

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