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Judge tosses Log Cabin Republicans Don't Ask Don't Tell lawsuit

by Michael Rogers

The United States Dictrict Court in the Ninth Circuit of central California has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) against the US Military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy PageOneQ has learned. The decision by LCR to not include the names of plaintiffs in the original suit resulted in the court ruling that the organization "lacks associational standing" to pursue the case. The Log Cabin organization has told PageOneQ they will re-file the case, meeting the decision’s requirements.

The court ordered the LCR to reveal the name of at least one of the plaintiffs if they want the case to proceed, and requires that the named plaintiff(s) be active members of the national Republican political organization. The ruling also requires the plaintiff to be a current or past member of the US Armed Forces who has been injured by the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. The court-imposed deadline for re-filing of the case is April 28.

According to the court's ruling, issued on March 21, LCR indicated it was necessary to withhold the names of its members who are plaintiffs because the disclosure of their identities “subjects them to investigation and discharge." On page 16 of the 18-page ruling, the court refuted those claims, citing other court cases in which the plaintiffs were named. In a case filed by the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network in December 2004, Thomas Cook et. al. v. Donald Rumsfeld et. al. No. 04-12546 (D. Mass), a dozen plaintiffs were listed in the complaint. In cases challenging the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, plaintiffs have been named since at least 1996, when the American Civil Liberties Union filed Thomasson v. Perry, 80 F.3d 915 (4th Cir. 1996) with assistance from SLDN.



"The decision in the Log Cabin suit does not address the legal questions surrounding Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but focuses instead on standing to sue," Steve Ralls, Communication’s Director of the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network told PageOneQ. Mr. Ralls told PageOneQ there have been more than 10,000 men and women discharged under the military's ban.

The lawsuit, Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America and Donald Rumsfeld, was filed in October, 2004. In a statement released at the time the case was filed, LCR President Patrick Guerriero said he was confident that the challenge would result in the end of the discriminatory policy.

Representing Log Cabins were two attorneys for the firm White and Case, Dan Woods and Marty Meekins. Mr. Meetkins is no longer with the firm and a message left for Mr. Woods early yesterday has not been returned. Messages left at the National Stonewall Democratic Club for comment went unreturned.

The ruling may be read here in PDF format (644kb).




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Originally published on Wednesday March 29, 2006.


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