“I’m extremely humbled to be able to play any role in trying overturn this awful policy legally,” Ensley said in a recent email about his testimony.
The policy, which requires gay service members to hide their sexual orientation or be discharged, violates free speech and due process rights, Log Cabin argues.
Log Cabin Republicans sued the United States government in 2004 over the ban on openly gay soldiers. On Tuesday, the trial began in the U.S. District Court for Central California with Judge Virginia Phillips presiding.
Ensley traveled from Atlanta to Riverside, Calif., to testify on the opening day. Other witnesses for the first day included LCR Board Chair Terry Hamilton, LCR member Philip Bradley and “Unfriendly Fire” author Nathaniel Frank, Keen News Service reported.
Ensley’s testimony was designed to speak to the question of why Log Cabin Republicans has standing — that is, legal grounds — to sue the government over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” according to Log Cabin attorney Daniel Woods’ opening statement as posted on the Log Cabin website. Log Cabin is arguing that the organization has standing to bring the case because its members have been hurt by the military policy.
“We will also today have Mr. Jamie Ensley testify about Alex Nicholson’s membership in Log Cabin Republicans and, a little later in the trial, will have Mr. Nicholson tell his story,” Woods said.
Nicholson “is a former U.S. Army human intelligence collector who is fluent in multiple languages, including Arabic, and who was discharged under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law just six months after 9/11,” according to Log Cabin.
Woods outlined Log Cabin’s detailed case against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” while also stressing the basic unfairness of the policy.
“No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Woods said. “For me personally, it comes down to integrity, theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”
The U.S. government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Freeborne. Woods, the Log Cabin attorney, told the Washington Blade that he was told the government would not call any witnesses, building its case entirely on the testimony in Congress when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was passed in 1993.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to discuss their strategy for the case with the Blade.