Tuesday, March 02, 2010

End of Don't Ask/Don't Tell in the Military?

The Chronicle of Higher Education, dated Feb. 26, 2010 has a feature story about the possible end of the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy, which began in 1993, during the Clinton administration. As an attempt to deal with gays in the military, the policy has been a disaster. The Chronicle article looks at the possible effect of changing the policy, and concludes that the groups most affected will be the handful of free-standing law schools that continue to ban military recruiters, and the gay students who want to join the military, yet are discouraged by the current policy.

Colleges and universities have largely discontinued their ban on military recruiters from campus. While holding this policy to be essentially discriminatory towards gays, however, the Solomon Amendment withholds federal funds from schools that ban recruiters. The enforcement of the Solomon Amendment has discouraged all but a few free-standing law schools from barring military recruiters. They lose thousands of dollars in federal research funds, but not nearly the amount that a research university stands or even a liberal arts college stands to lose.

A band of 36 law schools challenged the Solomon Amendment, but the Supreme Court, in 2006, upheld the constitutionality of the amendment, in FAIR et al. vs. Rumsfeld (Link to Solomon Response.org for all documents relating to FAIR; the home page of this group also has very handy time line, link to the Solomon Amendment statute, and other helpful documents).

When Barack Obama was campaigning for the presidency, he promised to do away with the Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy. In his state of the union address this past January, President Obama renewed his pledge. In the meantime, the student in the Chronicle article, Rachel Newman, at New York Law School, who says she would join the JAG corps if she were allowed (without the Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy)wore her T-shirt as a protest when the recruiters came to her school. Photo courtesy of the Chronicle of Higher Education, where you can read the full article with a password online, or in print in the March 5 issue, I believe.

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