Buried in last night's news beneath the blazing inferno in San Bruno was an important development in the gay rights movement: Central California federal district Virginia Phillips filed an 86-page ruling declaring the military's 17-year-old 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the substantive due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans (gay Republicans, for those unaware), and featured testimony from six military officers who had been discharged because of the policy, including one whose tour in Iraq ended when someone using his computer snooped and found a message to a man discussing gay sex.
The decision could ultimately be applied nationally, but for now things remain complicated. The plaintiffs in the case have seven days to bring an injunction, and the government can then decide whether or not to appeal. The judge also can take a page from Walker's playbook and issue a stay after any proposed injunction is submitted, pending appeal. But there is, however, a small possibility that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' could fall quickly if the government decides it isn't politically advantageous to fight this.
For some lengthy legal analysis from a recent Harvard Law School grad, click over to Towleroad.