Breaking: Federal appeals court reinstitutes "don't ask, don't tell"

That was fast.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday granted the Obama administration’s request for a temporary freeze of a California-based federal judge’s order telling the military to stop enforcing the policy…

Government lawyers sought to suspend the ruling while appeals were pending, arguing that it would pose a major problem for the military. They said it could encourage service members to reveal their sexual orientation before the issue is fully decided.

Not a tough issue legally — remember the point yesterday about troops being in legal limbo — but The One’s going to have some ‘splaining to do to lefties exhilarated by the fact that, for the first time in U.S. history, openly gay people could sign up to serve. Good luck, champ.

Meanwhile, at CBS, a new poll shows an eight-point drop in support for repealing DADT in just two months. I think I know why, but let’s see.

Support has dropped eight points since August, when 64 percent said they supported allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. (It now stands roughly where it did in February.) Since the August poll, Senate Republicans blocked efforts to set the stage for a legislative repeal of the policy and a district judge ordered that the policy no longer be enforced, a ruling being appealed by the government…

The new poll, taken between October 6th and 8th, found that 56 percent of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, while 31 percent oppose letting them do so.

Democrats and independents favored allowing gay troops to serve by wide margins. (65 percent to 27 percent in the case of Democrats, and 55 percent to 27 percent for independents.) Republicans were split on the question

Asked if gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve in the military – not if they should serve openly, but if they should serve at all – nearly seven in ten Americans said yes. Sixty-nine percent favor gays and lesbians serving in the military, while 21 percent oppose allowing them to serve.

It’s got to be the court ruling, right? That came on September 9, the midpoint between this poll and the last one. Voila — eight points of support for repeal right off the top. I’ve always thought that court challenges are a counterproductive way for gays to fight for rights since (a) the public doesn’t like to see issues that are being addressed democratically taken out of the voters’ hands and (b) gays are bound to win at the polls eventually anyway, in which case there’s no sense in giving their opponents the chance to claim they were cheated by a judge. The idea of judicial diktat deciding “don’t ask, don’t tell” is doubly abrasive, in fact, because it touches on military policy, with some voters bound to worry that a robed egghead who doesn’t know much about how the Army runs is uniquely poorly positioned to institute sweeping changes on personnel throughout the branches. Frankly, I’m surprised that there’s still majority support now.

As for why support for repeal spiked from 58 percent in February to 64 percent in August, I think it’s because Gates and Mullen testified in favor of repealing DADT back in February and then the House passed the repeal in May subject to the Pentagon’s final review of the policy. That’s the way people like to see military matters handled, with the generals at the forefront and the legislature making the final decision. The good news for supporters of DADT is that you may see further erosion in public support if the court ruling gets appealed and is upheld by the Supreme Court. The bad news is that, er, in that case the policy will be dead for good. But then, it’ll be dead for good soon enough anyway: The Pentagon’s review, overseen by Gates and Mullen, is almost sure to support some sort of gradual integration of openly gay servicemen.

From last night’s Anderson Cooper, here’s Dan Choi on signing up again for service. His reenlistement lasted a day.