Supreme Court silent on two gay-related cases

The United States Supreme Court May 12 declined to hear two gay-related cases, allowing lower court rulings to stand. The high court refused an appeal from a lower court upholding a housing discrimination case against a lesbian in Wisconsin. The court also rejected a constitutional challenge to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays to be discharged from the military.

In the case of Hacklander-Ready vs. Wisconsin, the Justices let stand the state court's ruling that Ann Hacklander-Ready violated Madison's fair housing ordinance when she rescinded Caryl Sprague's invitation to move into the house after she learned Sprague is a lesbian. Sprague sued and a state trial judge ruled Hacklander had violated the ordinance. Later, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Hacklander and another roommate, eventually leading to the case going before the US Supreme Court.

"Our country has a long legacy of court cases on housing discrimination against many communities," said Kerry Lobel, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The Supreme Court has once again let stand a law banning such discrimination."

Today's other decision marks the second time the high court has refused to get involved in the anti-gay "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the U. S. military. The 1993 policy represents a compromise reached between Congress and the Clinton Administration, which upholds the military's 50-year prohibition on gays serving in the armed forces. The original policy stated that homosexuality was incompatible with military service. It was replaced by "don't ask, don't tell" which was intended to allow servicemembers to serve as long as they did not discuss their sexual orientation. Although the military cannot question members or recruits about their sexual orientation, witch hunts continue and discharges are on the rise.

"By refusing to hear this case, the Court allows the ineffective 'don't ask, don't tell' policy to remain in place," said Lobel. "By requiring servicemembers to remain in the closet, this proves the only thing incompatible with military service is the truth."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is the oldest national gay and lesbian group and is a progressive organization that has supported grassroots organizing and pioneered in national advocacy since 1973. Since its inception, NGLTF has been at the forefront of virtually every major initiative for lesbian and gay rights. In all its efforts, NGLTF helps to strengthen the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement at the state level while connecting these activities to a national vision for change.

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