We're at a critical time in the LGBT rights movement -- the speed at which we are gaining ground in the courts is increasing, while progress in Congress has ground to a halt and tragic anti-gay violence and teen suicides are all around us. This is a time to redouble our efforts.
Each of us can do something: We urge you to take action by downloading our most popular youth and schools oriented toolkits -- Out, Safe and Respected, Bending the Mold, and Know Your Rights--and sharing them with young people, parents, teachers and friends.
Lambda Legal is also a co-sponsor of the Make It Better Project launched by the national GSA Network to give youth and adults the tools they need to combat anti-LGBT bullying and harassment and make schools safer for LGBT youth right now. And check out Dan Savage's powerful video blog "It Gets Better."
Discriminatory policies like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) are public invitations to treat LGBT people as different and inferior. There is a terrible connection between government-sponsored discrimination and the feelings of shame and vulnerability that can lead a young person to take his or her own life, or to the feelings of prejudice and hatred that can lead to anti-gay violence.
The powerful decision recently issued by a federal court in California that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is unconstitutional is based in large part on Lambda Legal's historic Supreme Court victory in Lawrence vs. Texas. That ruling in 2003 established that there are constitutionally protected rights associated with the "autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct." The judge in the case challenging DADT, brought on by Log Cabin Republicans, ruled that the government cannot take away those rights from LGBT Americans who join the military unless doing so is necessary to significantly further an important government interest. Because DADT in fact harms military readiness and unit cohesion, it cannot meet this test.
Until DADT is permanently enjoined or repealed, this story is not over. If the government asks the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the current injunction and allow discrimination to continue against LGBT service members, Lambda Legal intends to file an immediate friend-of-the-court brief in opposition to a stay. Every day that DADT is enforced brings irreparable harm to LGBT people, whether they are in or out of the military.