LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Pentagon told U.S. military recruiters on Tuesday to accept applications from gay men and lesbians, following a ruling by a federal judge in California to strike down its ban on homosexuals serving openly in the armed forces.
Here is a chronology of key events that led up to the Pentagon’s order:
* December 21, 1993: President Bill Clinton issues a directive ordering that military recruit applicants not be asked about their sexual orientation, a policy that came to be known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
* October 18, 2004: A gay activist group known as the Log Cabin Republicans sues the U.S. government under the Bush administration over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” claiming the policy violates the constitutional rights of gay service members.
* 2008: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledges to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and allow openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces.
* July 13, 2010: After languishing on the court’s docket for nearly six years, trial begins in the lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. The case is presided over by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside, California.
* September 9, 2010: Phillips rules in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” violates the constitutional free-speech and due-process rights of gay men and lesbians in the military.
* September 21, 2010: A Republican-led effort to block repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act prevents the U.S. Senate from overturning the law as part of a defense authorization bill.
* September 24, 2010: A federal judge in Tacoma, Washington, orders the reinstatement of a former U.S. Air Force Reserve flight nurse, Major Margaret Witt, who was expelled from the military after revealing she is a lesbian.
* October 12, 2010: Phillips issues a permanent injunction barring the U.S. military from enforcing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
* October 14, 2010: The Obama administration, insisting that it supports repeal of the ban but favors a political solution over a court-imposed one, asks the judge to lift her injunction while the case remains under appeal.
* October 18, 2010: Phillips tentatively rejects a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to lift her injunction.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman; Editing by Philip Barbara