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L.A. residents react to military gays ruling

September 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A federal judge in Riverside ruled on Thursday that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is unconstitutional, saying it violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians serving in the military. Some residents in Los Angeles did not want to state opinions on camera, but others said that the ruling on gays in the military is long overdue.

"It's due time. I think times are changing, and I think that society is adapting more and more to the times. It's amazing, but I didn't think I would see it in my lifetime," said one resident.

"I think the ruling is a good thing. I just heard a story of a woman who was in the military and came out as being a lesbian, and she was really treated unfairly in my mind. So I think the ruling is definitely a good thing," said resident Kevin Hughes.

The Log Cabin Republicans sued the federal government back in 2004 to end the policy. The group is the largest gay GOP political organization. It argued during the trial that the policy led to the firing of more than 13,000 men and women in the military since 1994.

Judge Virginia Philips found convincing evidence that the policy hindered recruiting efforts, led to the discharge of critical service members, including Arabic and Persian linguists and medical professionals, and caused the military to enlist people who have criminal records or are out of shape. The judge said the policy violates free speech because heterosexual members in the military can speak openly about their sexual orientation.

The U.S. Department of Justice department has a week to decide if it will appeal the decision, but it has not yet announced its next step.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the policy and that's something President Barack Obama has been pushing for. Later on this year, the U.S. Senate is expected to take up the issue.

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