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McVeigh v. Cohen

Significance

This case attempted to deal with the new policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and its constitutionality.

One of the first issues approached by President Bill Clinton after his inauguration in January of 1993 was the question of gays in the military. For years, of course, homosexual males and females had served in the armed forces without announcing their sexual orientation. After President Clinton was elected, he and various activist groups wanted to gain full recognition for gays in the military. This would include the benefits that would accrue to domestic partners, and would prevent the military services from discharging members on the basis of sexual orientation. After a long and bitter fight between the president, the military, and Congress, the various sides reached a compromise known popularly as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"; or, as Judge Sporkin characterized it in McVeigh v. Cohen, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue." This meant that the military would not ask personnel about their sexual orientation, and personnel would not volunteer information--or, presumably, make any overt displays of their sexuality. Neither side would pursue the issue without provocation. Few were entirely happy with this "solution," but it seemed reasonably fair, relying as it did on the good behavior of both parties. At the time, however, some observers considered a conflict inevitable, as one side or another would overstep the boundaries.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentMcVeigh v. Cohen - Significance, "boysrch"--or, The Other Timothy Mcveigh, Judge Sporkin Rules, Judge Sporkin's Ruling And The Continuing Saga