On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit denied the Air Force’s request for the full court to review an earlier decision against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In May, a three-judge panel determined that the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision granted new protections to gays and lesbians and as a result, the military could not discharge servicemembers just because they were gay. The ruling stated that the military would have to demonstrate specific cases in which a servicemember’s sexuality disrupted so-called unit cohesion.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, yesterday’s decision not to rehear the case could give President-elect Obama an opportunity to repeal the policy, which he opposed during his campaign. The Air Force now has 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court or let the decision become settled law within the states that make up the Ninth Circuit. Even if the Bush administration appeals the decision, the case most likely would not be heard until Barack Obama takes office, giving him an opportunity to withdraw the appeal. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on any developments in this exciting case.