Harvard Law School Panel Urges Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Four panelists at yesterday’s Harvard Law School Dean’s Forum agreed that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should be repealed, denouncing the policy as “inhumane.”

The panel, moderated by Law School Dean Martha L. Minow, covered the past, present, and future of the policy banning openly gay service members.

Aaron Tax, the legal director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund, began the discussion with a brief history of DADT.

“It went from a ban based on status to a ban based on conduct,” he said.

Currently, the policy bans military members from giving any statement at anytime about being gay, performing homosexual acts and marrying (or attempting to marry) a partner. Although changes to the policy, such as making it more difficult for outside sources to out someone for being gay, have been implemented, Tax said he believes the policy is still “inhumane.”

Tobias B. Wolff, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania then explained the moral implications of the policy, stating that it forces members of the military and their families to compromise their integrity in order to serve.

Although the Law School was unable to find a member of the armed forces to present an opposing view, the panelists debated what constituted the underlying issue about the policy.

“It’s a congressional policy at issue, not military,” Minow said.

Wolff and Elizabeth Hillman, a professor at UC Hastings College of Law, disagreed, arguing it was a military issue because the military started to influence the congressional agenda.

Currently, a working group is gathering information on military reactions to a possible repeal.

According to Hillman, if the policy is repealed, complete regulation would depend on whether leaders of armed forces would believe this repeal increases military efficiency.

“I say this because that is what’s happened with every other sub-group in the military,” she said.

The discussion ended with R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, describing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a national threat because it increases the risk of blackmailing members while costing tax payers thousands of dollars per discharge.

“We all want this policy repealed,” he said.

“It will happen. The daybreak is coming,” Hillman added.


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