[QODLink]
Americas
US ban on openly gay troops to stay
Appeals court says law should stay in place while Obama administration challeges decision to allow openly gay recruits.
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2010 03:44 GMT
The 'don't ask, don't tell' law will stay in place as it is debated in a forthcoming legal battle [AFP]  

The US military's ban on openly gay troops will remain in place while the Obama administration challenges a court ruling overturning the policy, a US appeals court has ruled.

Monday's decision means that the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" law will remain in place for the duration of a landmark legal battle that saw the policy briefly dropped before being re-instated.

In September, a district judge ruled that the law infringed on constitutional rights of gay men and women serving the military, prompting the Obama administration to appeal.

Barack Obama insists that he supports ending the "don't ask, don't tell" rule, but argues that congress rather than the courts should make the decision once the US military completes plans for an orderly transition to a new policy towards gay recruits.

The Pentagon has warned that a sudden change to a new law will hamper military readiness and cohesion.

The three judges sitting on the appeals court ruled 2-1 in favour of suspending the earlier decision, concluding that "the public interest in ensuring orderly change of this magnitude in the military - if that is what is to happen - strongly militates in favor of a stay."

Confusion

It could be months before the appeals court issues a ruling on whether or not the law, which requires gay service personnel to keep their sexuality secret, should be abandoned in line with the earlier ruling. 

The initial decision to lift the ban sparked confusion at recruitment offices, where a number of openly gay former servicemen sought to re-enlist, despite warnings they could face dismissal if the law is re-instated.

The legal debate comes at an awkward moment for Obama and the Democrats, who are facing a potential rout from Republicans in Tuesday's mid-term elections.

Many Republicans are fiercely opposed to gays serving in the military and are likely to gain from any controversy over social issues that could galavanise their conservative base at the polls.

The "don't ask, don't tell" law was introduced by former president Bill Clinton as a compromise between previous rules that excluded gays from serving in the military, and allowing them to serve as openly homosexual.

An estimated 13,000 men and women have been discharged from the military for being gay since the law came into effect, angering gay-rights campaigners.     

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.