Don’t-Ask Policy Is Halted By Judge

A federal judge ordered the military to stop enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that has been used to discharge gay service members, putting at least a temporary halt to the 17-year-old policy.

Tuesday’s order by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside, Calif., applies across the U.S. and would halt proceedings against service members suspected of violating the policy, which aims to bar openly gay people from the military.

Protesters, in favour of repealing the U.S. military’s “Dont Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, line the motorcade route of President Barack Obama in Los Angeles April 19, 2010.

The order poses a dilemma for the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress. They want to undo the 1993 law, but Senate Republicans blocked an effort last month to vote on a repeal.

The administration now must decide whether to appeal Judge Phillips’s ruling, which establishes by judicial fiat the result Democrats were seeking through legislative action. The Justice Department is generally obligated to defend laws passed by Congress, and an appeal is likely.

Congress is now in recess until after the midterm elections. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who favors repealing don’t ask, don’t tell, has said he wants to bring the issue up during the lame-duck session of Congress after the elections.

Judge Phillips ruled last month that the law violated the constitutional rights of service members. The case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights.

A federal judge in California this afternoon issued a broad injunction barring the military from enforcing its “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, aimed at prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the military. Ashby Jones explains.

The military has continued to discharge gay and lesbian service members this year—administrative procedures that the injunction will now halt. The military has resisted earlier attempts by Democrats in Congress to pass a temporary moratorium on discharges while a repeal is being considered.

The Justice Department and the Pentagon said they were studying the ruling.

Read more here.

Military Should Have Final Say on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

March 25: Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen take questions on the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy at a media briefing in Washington. (Reuters Photo)

Fox News

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday he supports a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy but he would like Congress to wait on a vote until after the Pentagon completes its review about the impact of allowing gay troops to serve openly.

Adm. Mike Mullen told “Fox News Sunday” that the military brass is working hard to “understand what’s going on with our troops,” and so he would like the legislation to wait until the review is complete. But he acknowledged he has no control over Congress’ actions.

“I don’t manage the legislative calendar,” he said, adding that it could “be many more months before this legislation is passed.”

A House voted Friday to repeal the ban. But the vote also gives the Pentagon until year’s end to study how to make that happen. A Senate committee approved the change Thursday, but the full Senate isn’t expected to act for months.

Mullen said he doesn’t want to inject the military forces into the middle of the debate because he doesn’t want to “electrify this force in the middle of two wars, for the length of time we’ve been at war.”

House Votes to Repeal Military Gay Ban

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen take questions on the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy at a media briefing in Washington March 25. (Reuters Photo)

By Chad Pergram

The House of Representatives voted Thursday night to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.

The vote repeals a 17-year-old law called “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The policy permitted gays and lesbians to serve in the military, so long as they did not declare their sexual orientation. In exchange
, the military brass would not inquire service members about their sexual preference.

“This is devastating to the war fighters and the combat infantrymen,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill.

But many Democrats, like Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., likened the policy to race discrimination.

“It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now,” said Lewis, a civil rights figure. “It is an affront to human dignity.”

The military has discharged some 13,000 service members since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy went into effect.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Penn., the first Iraq war veteran to serve in Congress, authored the House proposal.

Earlier Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to eliminate the old rule. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the only Republican to vote in favor of repeal while Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., was the only Democrat to vote against the initiative that was attached to a $760 billion defense spending bill.

“I’m excited. I can now join the military,” mused Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., the first person to be openly gay and then elected to Congress.

The vote was 234 to 194.

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Ron Paul, R-Texas, Joseph Cao, R-La., and Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, were the only Republicans to vote in favor of scrapping the law.

The amendment was part of a broader bill to authorize Pentagon programs.

The House is expected to finish that measure Friday. Many House Republicans warned they’d vote against the entire bill if lawmakers repealed the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly.

Congress Set for Landmark Vote on Lifting Military Gay Ban

Associated Press

Congress is headed toward landmark votes on whether to allow gays to serve openly in the military

The House of Representatives was expected to vote as early as Thursday on a proposal by Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat who served in the Iraq war, that would repeal the 1993 law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The legislation — a compromise struck with the White House and agreed to by the Defense Department — would give the military as much time as it wants before lifting the ban.

Under the bill, the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must first certify that the new policy won’t hurt the military’s ability to fight.

“We need to get this done, and we need to get it done now,” said Murphy.

Also as early as Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee was expected to take up an identical measure, proposed by Sens. Carl Levin, a Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, an Independent.

As in the House, the Senate provision would be tucked into a broader bill that is expected to win broad support authorizing hundreds of billions of dollars for the troops.

Supporters said this week the Senate panel had enough votes to pass the bill after key holdouts announced they would swing behind it.

Nelson said a provision in the billing giving the military the power to decide on the details of implementing the policy was key to his support because it “removes politics from the process” and ensures repeal is “consistent with military readiness and effectiveness.”

Advocates hoped the momentum in the Senate would carry over to the House, where several conservative Democrats threatened to oppose the massive defense spending bill if it included the repeal provision.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he supports repeal but would prefer that Congress wait to vote until he can talk to the troops and chart a path forward. A study he ordered is due on Dec. 1.

“With Congress having indicated that is not possible, the secretary can accept the language in the proposed amendment,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

The service chiefs this week urged the panel not to vote until the Pentagon could complete a survey of military personnel on the issue.

“The value of surveying the thoughts of Marines and their families is that it signals to my Marines that their opinions matter,” Marine Commandant James Conway wrote in a letter to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the panel’s top Republican.

Compromise Reached on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Senate and House proponents of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy have reached a compromise, a senior Senate Democratic aide tells Fox, that would eventually allow gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

“Yes, a compromise was reached that would implement repeal after the DOD report and certification by the POTUS and DOD,” the aide said.

This would comport with a request made recently by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who favors the repeal, that any scrapping of the 1990’s-era law wait for a full review going on now at DOD on implementation. That review is expected to wrap up in December.

The major players here: Senate Armed Services Cmte Chairman Carl Levin, D-MI, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-CT, and Iraq war veteran and Cong. Patrick Murphy, D-PA.

The three, according to Levin, have outlined their position in a letter to the Pentagon. “It authorizes DOD to repeal,” Levin said, but he would offer no more detail, as the negotiations are sensitive.

This will play out on the House floor later this week, when Murphy offers an amendment to the annual defense spending blueprint bill known as the Defense Authorization. The measure is opposed by the House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Ike Skelton, D-MO, who is facing a difficult re-election back home.

In the Senate, the measure will be debated and voted on in the Armed Services Committee later this week in closed session.

It is unclear how the vote will go in that committee, though the senior Senate Democratic source said, “We are optimistic, now that there is a compromise agreed to by DOD.”

Most committee Republicans are expected to oppose the measure, including war veteran Sen. John McCain, R-AZ. Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, a committee member, told Fox earlier this year, after the President proposed a repeal in his State of the Union address, “At a time when we’re putting our men and women through long deployments, it’s really not a good idea to engage in social engineering in the military.”

The committee is divided 14 to 12, with Democrats in the majority. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE, has said he does not support repeal, but a spokesman for Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, tells Fox, “She is likely going to support Lieberman.” So that would be a wash.

The vote is expected to be close and could come down to the vote of the Senate’s newest member, Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, who has said he wants to consult with the generals before making any decision.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supports repeal, though some generals have indicated opposition.

Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman provided the following statement to Fox’s Justin Fishel, “Congress has apparently chosen to address this issue this week and we are trying to get a better understanding of the legislative proposal they will be considering.”

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’… Anything about Shariah Law

By Alan Foster

Elena Kagan, current Solicitor General of The United States and former Dean of the Harvard Law School, exemplifies selective outrage. She knows a lot about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when it comes to ROTC on the Harvard Campus, but wears official blinders when it comes to Islamic treatment of homosexuals.

When Professor Kagan ascended to the position of Dean of the Law School, Harvard was in a quandary over military recruitment. Long opposed to the military’s policy towards openly gay men and women but ever solicitous of the greenbacks offered by the federal government, the school tried to hedge its bets on the Solomon Amendment, passed in 1994, which required the Secretary of Defense to deny federal grants to institutions of higher learning that prohibited or prevented ROTC or military recruitment on campus. And who better to circumvent the law’s intent than the serried ranks of lawyers in Cambridge, Massachusetts? They argued that Washington money should still flow because even though the college placement office was barred to recruiters, ROTC courses could be offered by the Harvard Law School Veterans’ Association.

Training on campus was still verboten for Harvard ROTC candidates, and they were forced to travel down the road to MIT to fulfill their training obligations. Too clever by half? Some congressmen thought so, and they responded by fortifying the act in 2001 by passing an amendment that denied all funding — not just to law schools, but to the entire institution that prohibited or prevented recruiting. Although Dean Kagan did not sign a petition along with many of Harvard’s Law School faculty opposing the Solomon Amendment, she did join two amicus briefs in that regard, one submitted to the Supreme Court.

In 2006, The Supreme Court upheld the law, and only two schools refused to comply, thus forfeiting federal largesse. Now, these facts are widely known to the legal community and to many in the country at large. What is not so well-known is Dean Kagan’s contemporaneous approval of and promotion of a little-known but richly endowed Harvard Law School program called The Islamic Legal Studies Program. What does all this have to do with Elena Kagan and her principled stand on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” It has a lot to do with honesty, integrity, and Harvard’s vaunted advocacy for human rights.

The Harvard Islamic Legal Studies Program was made part of Harvard Law School in 1991 with significant funding from distinctly undemocratic sources, mainly from the Gulf States. The program purports to be a research program “that seeks to advance knowledge and understanding of Islamic law.” The program works closely with the Harvard Islamic Finance Project, which became an official part of the Law School in 2003, the same year Professor Kagan was awarded the title of Dean.

But is it strictly a “research program”? A few times a year, the directors of the Finance Program take groups of promising Law School and Harvard Business School students to the Middle East on junkets to learn the intricate and arcane practices of Sharia Compliant Finance. Many of these promising students go on to work for such banks and investment firms as the Kuwait Finance House, HSBC Amanah Bank, and the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. The intertwined programs, it would seem, go far beyond mere “research” projects. Shariah Finance, it should be noted, is the Islamic approach to investing, mortgage lending, and a host of other money-related practices. Along with its prohibitions on interest accrual and trading in commodities such as pork, alcohol, and gambling is an overarching negative view of homosexuality. Negative, that is, to the point of advocating violence against gays.

Whatever dim views one may hold on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S. Military, the policy pales in comparison to the outright calls to violence enunciated by some of the Islamic world’s most prestigious and powerful Shariah advisors.

Case in point: Meet Sheikh Muhammed Taqi Usmani, former appellate court judge in Pakistan, a Deobandi (one of the most extreme Pakistani schools of Islam, associated with the Pakistani Taliban)-trained jurist and chief Shariah advisor to the HSBC Amanah Bank, one of the world’s largest and richest banks and one of the sponsors of Harvard’s Islamic Finance Project. Among other delightful quotes from Sheikh Usmani:

For a non-Muslim state to have more pomp and glory than a Muslim state itself is an obstacle, therefore to shatter this grandeur is among the greater objectives of jihad (from Islam and Modernism)

Also from Usmani’s book: “Killing is to continue until the unbelievers pay jizyah (subjugation tax) after they are humbled or overpowered.”

Apparently, these kinds of medieval barbarities did not rise to the level of immorality embodied in the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. At any rate, Dean Kagan never objected to the underlying principles of the program at her law school. Perhaps topics from the program like “Recent Trends and Innovations in Islamic Debt Securities” distracted her from the fundamental discriminatory underpinnings of Sharia Law.

The idea that Harvard Law School would abide such opinions emanating from less well-heeled spokesmen is not even worthy of consideration. Imagine the nation’s preeminent law school hosting a program on “white supremacist law and finance.” It’s all about the money, of course. In addition to the funding of the Islamic Legal Studies Program, other Muslim plutocrats like Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who dropped twenty million dollars into Harvard’s coffers a few years ago, have had a tremendous influence on the university and its culture.

If Sheikh Usmani’s views on jihad were not repellent enough, keep in mind that homosexuality has been a crime under Shariah Law in his native Pakistan since 1860. According to that country’s penal code, enforced by Judge Usmani, Article 377 states:

Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years nor more than ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

And here, the chief Shariah Adviser to the sponsors of Harvard’s program writes:

It is the same modernity that has engulfed the whole world in the tornado of nudity and obscenity, and has provided an excuse for fornication, and moreso it has led under thunderclaps to the passage of a bill in the British House of Commons to legalize homosexuality (Islam and Modernism).

Suddenly “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” seems pretty benign.

Not only does the Harvard program feature homophobic and “homicidal” clerics, but even the Harvard Muslim Student Chaplain, Taha Abdul-Basser, who has lectured regularly at the Islamic Finance Project, declared apostasy from Islam a capital (not the finance kind) offense:

Abdul-Basser wrote that there was “great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment [for apostates]) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand (The Harvard Crimson April 14, 2009).

Dean Kagan’s reticence about these programs at her own law school should raise serious questions of integrity, sincerity, forthrightness, and ultimately, honesty.

Alan Foster is a pseudonym.