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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund American Civil Liberties Union Court Grants Preliminary Injunction on Gays in the Military; Action Bars Government From Taking Action Against Servicemembers in Case For IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 4, 1994 BROOKLYN -- A federal District Court today granted a preliminary injunction preventing the government from discharging the six servicemembers who filed suit challenging the recently enacted federal law and the final Department of Defense regulations excluding lesbians and gay men from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Court's action prevents the government from taking any discriminatory action until a full hearing or trial and a final decision in the case. No trial date has yet been set. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay and lesbian civil rights organization, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal district court in Brooklyn on March 7, 1994, challenging the Clinton Administration's law and regulations as unconstitutional. The statute and regulations deny equality to lesbians and gay men in the services, Lambda and the ACLU say, while serving no legitimate government interest. Two days after the government learned that he was a plaintiff in the case, Petty Officer Robert Heigl, on active duty in the Coast Guard, was served with a notice of imminent discharge, but in an emergency hearing, Judge Eugene Nickerson received assurance from the government that they would not pursue the matter until the preliminary injunction hearing. "Today's ruling guarantees that these six individuals will be able to continue serving their country until we have the chance to prove that the law and regulations are unconstitutional," said William B. Rubenstein, Director of the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "And the Court action today underscores that even openly gay and lesbian servicemembers can perform their jobs without any injury to the military's mission." "By identifying themselves to challenge the constitutionality of the policy, our clients have become subject to discipline and discharge," said Beatrice Dohrn, Legal Director of Lambda. "The government's actions during the two weeks that this case has been pending demonstrated to the court the reality of this policy." The plaintiffs in Able v. USA range from a lieutenant colonel to a petty officer and include two active-duty service members who live in the federal judicial district covered by the court in Brooklyn. Lambda and the ACLU say that the statute and regulations create an elaborate system under which all lesbian and gay service members are not judged on their fitness and ability to serve their country, but are instead subject to discriminatory treatment because of the perceived prejudice of others. "The American public has been hoodwinked into believing that these rules are somehow more 'relaxed' and fair than the old policy," said Ruth E. Harlow, Associate Director of the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "The truth," added Kevin Cathcart, Lambda's Executive Director, "is that the law and regulations are more clearly than ever based entirely on prejudice and therefore unconstitutional." --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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