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ACLU Says Clinton's Action on Gays in Military Unconstitutional;
Federal Court Action Planned In Coming Days
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 1993
NEW YORK -- Following is a statement by William B. Rubenstein,
Director of the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.
President Clinton's decision on lesbians and gay men in the military
is unjustifiable as a matter of military policy, unacceptable as a matter
of civil rights, and unconstitutional as a matter of law.
Because the political branches have failed to produce a fair public
policy, this issue will now shift back to the courts. The ACLU is working
with other advocates for lesbians and gay men and plans to file suit in
the coming days to challenge the constitutionality of the Clinton policy.
The policy violates the federal Constitution's First Amendment and Equal
Protection Clause. If necessary, we will pursue these arguments to the
Supreme Court to guarantee full equality for lesbian and gay Americans.
This issue has been fought in the courts for more than 25 years and
-- now that the political processes have failed to resolve it fairly -- it
will ultimately be settled by the courts. This period of political
manuevering will be remembered only as a detour in the quarter-century
legal struggle. Our battle belongs in the courts because at its core is a
question of prejudice -- and discrimination against minorities is
precisely what the Bill of Rights is designed to protect against. Our
Constitution envisions that the court system will correct political
decisions when, as here, those decisions are based on bigotry, not
The American Civil Liberties Union has long contended that
discrimination against lesbians and gay men is a serious violation of the
United States Constitution. Preventing a lesbian or gay soldier, sailor,
or marine from stating his or her sexual orientation plainly violates the
First Amendment right to free speech. Furthermore, the Constitution's
Equal Protection Clause requires that individuals be judged solely on
their individual abilities, not on the prejudices of others.
The ACLU will continue to make the military issue an ongoing test of
what our Constitution means: Is it a living document that protects
minorities from prejudice or is it a hollow promise to lesbians and gay
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