An appeals court has frozen Judge Virginia Phillips's injunction to stop the enforcement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, meaning that the policy could be enforced again while the government tries to fight Phillips's decision.
For those of you keeping score at home, Judge Phillips ruled the policy unconstitutional in September. Then last week, she ordered the Pentagon to stop enforcing it. They complied, but the Justice Department is appealing the decision because the Obama administration wants a legislative rather than judicial (and slow rather than fast) end to the policy. Says Obama, "It has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now." So the Justice Dept. asked Phillips for a stay allowing DADT to remain in place while they appealed. No dice. They appealed that ruling, and yesterday, and appeals court granted the stay — so DADT could theoretically be back in effect while the administration gets its appeal of Phillips's larger ruling together. And then if all goes according to Obama's plan, a court will officially reinstate the policy just in time for Congress to repeal it again. If McCain ever lets them.
While all this goes down, the AP says it's not clear whether the Pentagon will actually go back to enforcing DADT. Service members have been advised not to come out until all this is resolved, but the military has accepted some openly gay recruits. Whether they'll get to serve while the country gets its shit together is an open question. Also up for debate is whether a sudden end to DADT would really be such a bad thing for the war effort. One Army Reserve member described troop reaction to Phillips's injunction against enforcement as a "giant shoulder shrug of ‘so what?' " But the commandant of the Marine Corps claims young Marines believe allowing openly gay servicemembers would be a problem for "good order and discipline." Would our military really collapse if gay members were allowed the same openness straight ones have always enjoyed? I'd like to think that's not the case, but we're probably not going to find out for a while. What we are learning, all too clearly, is just how ineffective our government can be.