ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE Supreme Court Will Not Revi

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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE Supreme Court Will Not Review Watkins Decision; Victory Against Military's Anti-Gay Discrimination For IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 5, 1990 Ending a decade-long legal battle, the United States Supreme Court has refused to review a lower court decision which, for the first time, forced the military to enlist an openly gay soldier. The soldier, Perry Watkins, had been represented in his lengthy struggle by the ACLU of Washington, with assistance from the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. William B. Rubenstein, the Director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, called the Court's decision not to hear the government's appeal of United States v. Watkins, a "significant victory aginst the military." "This decision is a huge step toward a day when the military's unfair discrimination against gay men and lesbians will no longer be tolerated," Rubenstein said. "The courts rejected the military's arguments that the presence of this openly gay soldier would undermine morale and discipline. Perry's career is a testament to the fact that openly gay soldiers can and will serve successfully in the armed forces." When he first enlisted in 1967, Watkins accurately completed his pre-induction medical form, answering "yes" on a question that asked whether he had homosexual tendencies. The Army enlisted him anyway and let him rejoin several times despite three Army investigations. In 1981, when it adopted new regulations requiring the discharge of all homosexuals, the Army began proceedings to remove Watkins. "Perry Watkins had an examplary record in his 14 years as a soldier," said Julya Hampton, the Legal Program Director for the ACLU of Washington. "The Court's decision recognizes that the Army's treatment of Watkins was unfair and should put an end to the Army's efforts to discriminate against him." Watkins, represented by James Lobsenz, a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Washington, filed his first legal complaint with the federal District Court in Seattle in August 1981 seeking to obtain reinstatement of his security clearance and to force the Army to stop its attempts to discharge him because he is a homosexual. In May 1989, after numerous rounds in court, the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that, as a matter of fairness, the Army could not discharge Watkins for being gay because it had allowed him to re-enlist three times while knowing of his sexual orientation. The Bush Administration asked the Supreme Court to review that decision. On November 5, the Court--without comment--refused that request. "This victory demonstrates that there are limits to the military's discrimination against lesbians and gay men," Rubenstein said. "The Court, in effect, has told the Army that it can accomplish its mission with gay soldiers in the ranks."

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