Official Ruling on DADT

A court rules that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can no longer be enforced by the U.S. military - and a lesbian from West Point makes history

It’s been a long time coming, but this week the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can no longer be enforced by the U.S. military. This comes after the Obama administration expected that the ruling would likely take months before the repeal would be put into play. Obama signed the repeal in December 2010.

But now it’s official. Based on the latest ruling, the U.S. will no longer defend DADT, saying that it’s unconstitutional. In its order, the court argues that gay and lesbian individuals have suffered a “long and significant history of purposeful discrimination.” These are very powerful words, especially poignant for the many LGBT service people who have been discharged from all branches of the military based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The next step in the DADT saga will also dictated by the court: to stop banning openly gay and lesbian service members. The whole of the U.S. military will also be trained on how to enforce the repeal as early as this summer. It’s expected the training will also include education on LGBT issues for officers and others in leadership positions.

In another gay-positive move for the U.S. military this week, the Obama administration also appointed Brenda “Sue” Fulton to be the first openly gay member of the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Fulton is among several female graduates of the first West Point class to include female cadets and is the founder of OutServe. She served in the Army since the 1980s, having been honorably discharged as a captain. She’s currently the executive director of Knights Out, an LGBT West Point alumni group.

Patrick Murphy, a former Democratic congressman from nearby Bucks County who was defeated in the last election by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick – and a sponsor of the DADT repeal bill – was also recently appointed to the board which consists of nine members of Congress and six Presidential appointees.

Fulton issued a statement on Tuesday: “I’m proud to have the opportunity to support the cadets who will lead our Army in the coming years. And I’m pleased that the president is clearly setting the state for a post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military with appointments like this. Most important, I’m looking forward to supporting West Point as it continues to serve the Academy and the Army that I love.”