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National Black Justice Coalition

Celebrates Ruling on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, a federal judge in California ruled that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy which bars openly gay and lesbian service members from serving in the military is unconstitutional.

Judge Virginia A. Phillips stated that DADT infringes upon the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian United States service members in many ways, including the right to enjoy “intimate conduct” in their personal relationships and the right to speak to loved ones while serving their country in uniform. Additionally, DADT discharges gay and lesbian service members for including information in their personal communications from which an unauthorized reader may determine that they are gay and then betray them by reporting them to authorities.

In response to Judge Phillips’ decision, the National Black Justice Coalition’s Executive Director Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s decision on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ leads us one step closer to an official end to government-sanctioned identity suppression. For twenty-five years, my husband has protected and served proudly and bravely along side his gay and lesbian colleagues. Those colleagues have put their lives on the line for our country, and many times for strangers who may never know the sacrifices that were made for their safety and the futures of their children. Those same dedicated servicemembers were asked to hide who they are and the families that love and support them. Thank God suspect laws like ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ are finally being repealed by fair-minded federal judges who are committed to removing barriers toward equality across the land for everybody, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

NBJC Board Member Alan-Michael Graves added, “As an American and a veteran, the decision to overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is long overdue. Gone are the days when gay and lesbian servicemembers are forced to endure not just war, but also the added stress and psychological damage that result from serving in fear that they will be discovered, outed and then fired for who they are. Failure to support the repeal is tantamount to failure to support the morale and personal integrity of our troops.”


The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. NBJC’s mission is to eradicate racism and homophobia.


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