NBC News and news services
updated 11/12/2010 6:32:45 PM ET 2010-11-12T23:32:45

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday to allow the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military to remain in place while a federal appeals court considers the issue.

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

The court did not comment in denying a request from the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, to step into the federal court review of "don't ask, don't tell." The Obama administration urged the high court not to get involved at this time.

Last month, a federal judge in California ruled that the policy violates the civil rights of gay Americans, and she issued an injunction that barred the Pentagon from applying it. The San Francisco-based appeals court said the policy could remain in effect while it considers the administration's appeal.

"Log Cabin Republicans are disappointed that the Supreme Court decided to maintain the status quo with regards to 'don't ask, don't tell,' but we are not surprised," said R. Clarke Cooper, the group's executive director. "We are committed to pursuing every avenue in the fight against this failed and unconstitutional policy."

President Barack Obama has pledged to push the Senate to repeal the policy in the lame-duck session before a new Congress is sworn in. Administration lawyers have in the meantime defended "don't ask, don't tell" in court.

The policy, which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, was lifted for eight days in October after U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that it violates the U.S. Constitution. The Obama administration asked the appeals court to reinstate the ban until the court could hear arguments on the broader constitutional issues next year.

    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California
    6. Christie acknowledges federal subpoena
    7. Obama says Fox News's O'Reilly 'absolutely' unfair in extended interview
    8. Christie security officer hit with shoplifting charges
  1. More politics
    1. Obama's 2nd year
      AP
    2. Political Cartoons

Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the court's consideration of the issue. Kagan served as the administration's chief Supreme Court lawyer before she became a justice in August.

Gay rights advocates said they hoped Congress will be moved to repeal the law after a Pentagon study found it could be done with little harm to the military.

The Senate is expected to vote next month on ending the 17-year-old legislation barring gays from serving openly in the armed forces. Several senators, including Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Jim Webb, D-Va., have said they wanted to see the study's findings before deciding how to vote.

"These results confirm what those of us who actually know the modern military, especially the rank-and-file troops, have said all along: The men and women of America's armed forces are professionals who are capable of handling this policy change," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United.

Repeal opponents shot back, saying the group leading the study, which has not been released publicly, was biased and that selected details were leaked to the media this week in an effort to drum up public support for repeal.

"It's laughable to argue that people who anonymously leak one-sided information to a reporter are less likely to mischaracterize the findings of a 10-month study than are people who wait to read that 370-page study in full," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the review in February, calling change inevitable but saying the study was needed to prepare for an orderly transition to open gay service.

Study: Repeal carries little risk
The internal assessment concluded that repeal carries little risk, with more than 70 percent of troops saying that allowing gays to serve openly would have positive, mixed or no results, according to an official familiar with the report's findings. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the report won't be released publicly until after Dec. 1.

On Friday, Gates ordered an investigation to find out who was behind the leaked information.

Defense officials told NBC News that portions of the survey which tended to support the repeal had been leaked, "to give wary members of congress some cover" so they can feel free to vote for repeal in the lame duck session.

Department of Defense spokesman Geoff Morrell told NBC News that Gates "is very concerned and extremely disappointed" over leaked information from a survey which he claims "risk undermining the integrity of the process."

It long has been expected that most troops who oppose repeal are assigned to so-called combat arms duties, such as infantry.

  1. Most popular

Some officials have warned that even scattered resistance to the change could pose problems for field commanders because combat troops often are forced to live in close quarters.

According to The Washington Post, 40 percent of Marines expressed concerns about lifting the ban.

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, said she believes opponents of repeal inside the military represent "the tip-of-the-spear troops whose views should be given heavier weight, but won't be." The group opposes lifting the ban.

Because the leaks have emphasized support rather than opposition to repeal, the Pentagon "seems to be actively trying to manage perceptions in order to distract attention from details in the report that will contradict the headline President Obama wants," she said.

Gay rights groups respond
Gay rights advocates called the objections raised against repeal groundless.

"No one should be surprised if a vocal minority, for a short window, might object, as a minority did when segregation in the ranks ended and women were admitted to the service academies," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "In the military, you get over your objections or you get out."

Gay rights groups previously had dismissed the Pentagon study because of its methodology. Servicemembers United said this summer that the survey was "biased, derogatory and inflammatory" because it assumed troops would object to serving alongside someone who was openly gay.

Nicholson said he still believes the study was biased, but its results prove that there is little resistance to changing the law among troops.

"Had the survey been completely unbiased, it is likely that we would be seeing even higher numbers in our favor," he said.

The Associated Press and NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski contributed to this report.

Video: Supreme Court won't block DADT

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments