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BREAKING UPDATE: Pentagon Confirms Judge Advocate General Memo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 2010
Trevor Thomas: (616) 430-2030 or trevor@sldn.org
Paul DeMiglio: (202) 621-5408 or pdemiglio@sldn.org

BREAKING UPDATE: Pentagon Confirms Judge Advocate General Memo

A Pentagon spokesperson released this written statement moments ago:

"Earlier today, the Staff Judge Advocate Generals from the Military Services, in consultation with the OSD Office of General Counsel, sent to their Service Staff Judge Advocate counterparts in the field an e-mail informing them of the ruling by Judge Virginia Phillips of the Central District of California, issuing an injunction barring the enforcement or application of 10 USC 654, commonly known as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" statute. The e-mail noted that the US Government is contemplating whether to appeal and to seek a stay of the injunction.

The Department of Defense will of course obey the law, and the e-mail noted that, in the meantime, the Department will abide by the terms in the court's ruling, effective as of the time and date of the ruling.

We have no further information or comment at this time, but when and if we do, we will provide that to you."

Col. Dave Lapan, USMC
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Media Operations)

UPDATED: Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“This is an extraordinarily positive development but this interim period remains dangerous. Gay and lesbian service members are calling our hotline and asking what this means. We have clients under investigation and facing discharge right now. We’ll be monitoring each case over the coming days. We need to put the safety and well being of gay and lesbian service members first. Service members continue to remain vulnerable under DADT. The President needs to deliver on his promise to end the law this year.”

More to come from SLDN communications later today.

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Media release from earlier today by SLDN:

Internal Memo from U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General to JAG Officers: Uphold Court Injunction

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), learned today an email was sent to JAG officers in the U.S. Air Force stating that until the Department of Justice makes a decision on the recent ruling by judge Virginia A. Phillips, the Air Force needs to abide by the district court injunction. The injunction said to "immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding" related to DADT.

Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“This is an extraordinarily positive development and we would anticipate each Judge Advocate General from all the branches would follow suit in providing similar legal guidance to their respective commands. This interim period is dangerous. We need to put the safety and well being of gay and lesbian service members first. Service members continue to remain vulnerable under DADT. The President needs to deliver on his promise to end the law this year. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more clear that the Obama Administration intends to seek a stay to this injunction and it is going to appeal the decision. DADT may well be in a state of flux. It will remain the law unless the U.S. Senate acts in December and we have certification by the White House and Pentagon shortly thereafter.”

Warning to service members:

SLDN re-issued its warning to active-duty service members, including those in the reserves and the national guard, to know they’re at risk. We have clients under investigation and facing discharge right now. We’ll be monitoring each case over the coming days. Anyone in the armed forces with questions or concerns should call our hotline or visit www.SLDN.org/StillAtRisk.

Email from Richard C. Harding, The Judge Advocate General, U.S. Air Force:

Members of The Judge Advocate General’s Corps,

On 12 October 2010, a federal district judge of the Central District of California issued an injunction barring the enforcement or application of 10 USC 654, commonly known as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" statute. A copy is attached. At present, the United States Government is contemplating whether to appeal and to seek a stay of the injunction. In the meantime, effective 12 October, the Department of Defense will abide by its terms, as follows:

The District Court "permanently enjoins defendants United States of America and the Secretary of Defense, their agents, servants, officers, employees, and attorneys and all persons acting in participation or concert with them or under their direction or command from enforcing or applying the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Act and implementing regulations, against any person under their jurisdiction or command."

The District Court further "orders defendants United States of America and the Secretary of Defense immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Act or pursuant to 10 USC 654 or its implementing regulations, on or prior to the date of this Judgment."

Further guidance on this and related issues will be provided as it is made available by DoD. Inform your commanders of this injunction and its terms. Direct any questions to the Administrative Law Division, AF/JAA.

RICHARD C. HARDING
Lieutenant General, USAF
The Judge Advocate General

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A journalists’ guide is available here.

 

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