(CN) – Justice Department lawyers have asked a federal judge in Riverside, Calif., to stay her order barring the U.S. military from enforcing its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay troops. The Obama administration wants the policy repealed through Congress, not the courts.
“A court-ordered injunction, operating precipitously and directly on all military and civilian Defense Department personnel throughout the world, would undermine the credibility and validity of the entire process that the political branches have undertaken for the orderly repeal of (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), and may make the transition to repeal not only far more difficult, but also potentially disruptive to military readiness,” the government argued in its application for a stay.
Although President Obama “strongly supports” overturning the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Act, he has decided “to seek a congressional repeal of the law,” according to the Justice Department.
The administration wants U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips to halt her sweeping injunction on Tuesday in favor of the Log Cabin Republicans, who challenged the policy.
Phillips said the military’s practice of discharging openly gay or lesbian service members infringed on their fundamental rights and actually had a “direct and deleterious effect” on military readiness and unit cohesion by harming wartime recruitment and requiring the discharge of service members with critical skills and training.
She blocked the military from enforcing the policy against all service members serving in the United States and abroad.
The government says the Department of Defense has formed a “high-level working group” to thoroughly review the statute and determine how best to change the policy “in a prudent manner.”
The group is expected to deliver its report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Dec. 1.
“The immediate implementation of the injunction would disrupt this review and frustrate the Secretary’s ability to recommend and implement policies that would ensure that any repeal of DADT does not irreparably harm the government’s critical interests in military readiness, combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, morale, good order, discipline, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces,” government attorneys argued.
“We are very disappointed that the administration has sought to block the order halting the enforcement of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “As discouraging as the government’s action may be, a request for a stay is not an appeal, and there is still time for the administration to review its position and decide against appealing the court order.”