updated 11/14/2006 3:45:06 PM ET 2006-11-14T20:45:06

Twelve gay and lesbian veterans appealed a federal judge’s decision to throw out a lawsuit challenging the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filed the plaintiffs’ appeal Monday in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Boston, arguing the policy denies gays’ constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and equal protection.

U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole had thrown out their lawsuit in April, ruling that Congress has the authority to establish the country’s military policy.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” has been upheld by appeals courts in several other jurisdictions, but the appeals court in Boston has never been asked to rule on it.

The Bush administration argues that the policy is a rational way to foster unit cohesion, reducing sexual tensions and promoting personal privacy.

The policy, dating from the Clinton era, prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or engage in homosexual activity.

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