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Gay Recruit Denied Military Employment Even After Worldwide DADT Ban

(photo: Qlis)

As expected, the Administration will appeal the worldwide ban on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell discharges, and the underlying lawsuit, and will probably do so very shortly. With the jurisdictional issue of whether Virginia Phillips can enjoin a worldwide ban at stake, I would expect nothing less of the executive branch.

But what nobody should expect is for them to flaunt the law before getting a stay of the injunction. That appears to be what they have done:

With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.

But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.

“I like the civilian world, but I miss it,” Mr. Lopez said of the military, as he arrived with a worker for Get Equal, a gay rights advocacy group. “I feel lost without it.”

Obviously there are a lot of recruiting centers all over the country, and clearly not all of them have the most up-to-date information. But if you take this example, the military just violated a court order by denying access to an eligible potential service member. The recruiters claimed no knowledge of an injunction, which Virginia Phillips laid down earlier week. Until a stay is ordered, it would seem that the military is obligated to at the least acknowledge the court ruling and filter it down to their recruiting offices. We know that Robert Gates is aware of the order, he commented on it. We know that the White House is aware of it, senior officials are already leaking that they plan to appeal. Indeed, the previous CNN article suggests that military commanders aren’t even being advised with how to proceed, consistent with the recruiting office violating the court order. . . . [cont’d.]

Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said the Pentagon doesn’t even know how many cases there are throughout the Defense Department of individual troops being disciplined by the military for violating the policy.

“There is no way to tell. These things are handled by individual commanders. There is no ‘everybody report up to DoD everything you are doing on these cases,'” Lapan said.

Maj. Gen. John Campbell of Regional Command East in Afghanistan said he’s seen no impact or reaction to the judge’s ruling among his troops.

“I really don’t see an impact on our soldiers here today. I don’t see an impact by what the judge said,” Campbell told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon. Soldiers, he said, “probably have no clue of that (judge’s) statement out there.”

So before even filing an emergency stay with the presiding judge, military recruiters, and, it seems, commanders, are violating the court order. Those are just the facts. I don’t know if it reveals a lack of moral authority, but certainly it’s a violation. And while I think this is more on the military than the President, given that he’s the commander-in-chief I do understand where this sentiment is coming from:

So, to be clear, the President upholds the law of the land on DADT when it hurts gays, and he violates the law of the land on DADT when it helps gays. The only thing consistent in the President’s actions is that he always seems to take the position that’s anti-gay.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Gay Recruit Denied Military Employment Even After Worldwide DADT Ban

As expected, the Administration will appeal the worldwide ban on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell discharges, and the underlying lawsuit, and will probably do so very shortly. With the jurisdictional issue of whether Virginia Phillips can enjoin a worldwide ban at stake, I would expect nothing less of the executive branch.

But what nobody should expect is for them to flaunt the law before getting a stay of the injunction. That appears to be what they have done:

With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.

But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.

“I like the civilian world, but I miss it,” Mr. Lopez said of the military, as he arrived with a worker for Get Equal, a gay rights advocacy group. “I feel lost without it.”

Obviously there are a lot of recruiting centers all over the country, and clearly not all of them have the most up-to-date information. But if you take this example, the military just violated a court order by denying access to an eligible potential service member. The recruiters claimed no knowledge of an injunction, which Virginia Phillips laid down earlier week. Until a stay is ordered, it would seem that the military is obligated to at the least acknowledge the court ruling and filter it down to their recruiting offices. We know that Robert Gates is aware of the order, he commented on it. We know that the White House is aware of it, senior officials are already leaking that they plan to appeal. Indeed, the previous CNN article suggests that military commanders aren’t even being advised with how to proceed, consistent with the recruiting office violating the court order.

Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said the Pentagon doesn’t even know how many cases there are throughout the Defense Department of individual troops being disciplined by the military for violating the policy.

“There is no way to tell. These things are handled by individual commanders. There is no ‘everybody report up to DoD everything you are doing on these cases,'” Lapan said.

Maj. Gen. John Campbell of Regional Command East in Afghanistan said he’s seen no impact or reaction to the judge’s ruling among his troops.

“I really don’t see an impact on our soldiers here today. I don’t see an impact by what the judge said,” Campbell told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon. Soldiers, he said, “probably have no clue of that (judge’s) statement out there.”

So before even filing an emergency stay with the presiding judge, military recruiters, and, it seems, commanders, are violating the court order. Those are just the facts. I don’t know if it reveals a lack of moral authority, but certainly it’s a violation. And while I think this is more on the military than the President, given that he’s the commander-in-chief I do understand where this sentiment is coming from:

So, to be clear, the President upholds the law of the land on DADT when it hurts gays, and he violates the law of the land on DADT when it helps gays. The only thing consistent in the President’s actions is that he always seems to take the position that’s anti-gay.

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David Dayen

David Dayen