Log Cabin Lawsuit Challenging Don't Ask, Don't Tell Set for June Hearing

Important Legal Battle in Precedent-Setting Case

April 30, 2007 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(Washington, DC) – A federal judge has scheduled oral arguments in Log Cabin's lawsuit challenging the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell law enacted in 1993. The hearing before Judge George Schiavelli in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America and Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense is set for June 18th in Los Angeles. "No matter what happens after this initial hearing, Log Cabin will continue working to support and protect our brave men and women in uniform – through this case, through legislative lobbying, and by educating the American people about why the law should be changed," said Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon.

"The case presents important constitutional law issues," said Dan Woods, lead attorney for the Log Cabin Republicans. "The Supreme Court has not addressed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law since its decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down that state's sodomy laws. The Court held Americans have a fundamental right to privacy and this includes the right of gay and lesbian Americans to engage in intimate relationships without government interference. Don't Ask, Don't Tell violates this fundamental right."

Log Cabin originally filed suit in the fall of 2004. In March 2006, the Judge ruled that Log Cabin had to provide the Court with the names of Log Cabin members who were impacted by the policy. In May 2006, Log Cabin re-filed its suit explicitly providing the Court with two injured members. One of those members is Alexander Nicholson, who was discharged from the Army because of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. The second member is referred to as John Doe, and is currently serving in our armed forces. This John Doe plaintiff represents scores of Log Cabin members courageously fighting the war on terror.

"I know this will be the first of what could be many 'days in court,' but I'm optimistic we will see things made right in the end," said Nicholson. "I'm proud to stand up on behalf of all those men and women who courageously serve in silence, to protect our nation's freedom."

The June 18th hearing provides an opportunity for oral arguments on the government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. White & Case, a global law firm, is representing the plaintiffs in this case on a pro bono basis.

"This is one step in a long process," says Sammon. "We're committed to fighting this case for the long haul because of the importance of the constitutional rights at stake."

Log Cabin isn't the only organization challenging this law in court. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) filed suit on behalf of service members who were kicked out of the military because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Last month, the First Circuit heard oral arguments on a motion to reverse a lower court ruling dismissing SLDN's Don't Ask, Don't Tell challenge, Cook v. Gates.

18 year Air Force veteran Margaret Witt, a highly decorated nurse, also filed suit challenging the law after she was discharged for being in a relationship with another woman. A District Court judge dismissed Witt v. United States Department of the Air Force, but the case is currently being appealed.