A federal judge in Southern California has done something a U.S. president could not. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' issued an injunction that stops the military enforcement of "don't ask don't tell."
Her ruling from Riverside County on Tuesday ends the ban on openly gay military members. It is a ruling that will impact troops no matter where they are serving around the world.
Phillips said "don't ask don't tell" violates the free-speech and Due Process rights of service members after listening to the testimonies of military officers who have been discharged under the policy.
The policy prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members, but at the same time it bans those who are gay from serving openly. It was implemented in 1993 under the Clinton Administration. Service members who acknowledge being gay or are discovered engaging in homosexual activity, even in the privacy of their own homes off base, were subject to discharge.
Phillips declared the law unconstitutional following a two-week trial in a case that was filed by the pro-gay group Log Cabin Republicans.
The ruling was immediately cheered by those who support gay rights who credit Phillips with getting accomplished what President Barack Obama and Washington politicians could not.
"The order represents a complete and total victory for the Log Cabin Republicans and reaffirms the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians in the miltiary for fighting and dying for our country," attorney Dan Woods told the Associated Press.
The Log Cabin Republicans used the courts instead of the poltiical process.
U.S. Department of Justice has 60 days to appeal the ruling. Legal experts say the federal lawyers could just let it stand.