At a community forum Tuesday night, students and staff of the Vermont Law School debated the merits of the school's policy to ban military recruiters on campus because of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell was passed by Congress in 1993 under President Clinton. It was seen as a compromise between the old law, which banned gays from serving in the military altogether, and those who wanted gays to be allowed to serve openly. Under DADT a gay person is allowed to serve so long as he or she keeps his or her sexual identity a secret.
"I think that it's a rather unjust law," said Catherine Peterson, a first year VLS student. "I think that if they are allowed to serve then they should be able to say who they are."
All law schools in the country banned military recruiters from campus after the schools adopted a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. Many reversed their ban after the federal government ruled it would withhold funding from schools that don't allow military recruiters. Vermont Law School and William Mitchell, in Minnesota, opted to forgo the funding and are the only two law schools in the country that still bar military recruiters on campus.
"We're not sure exactly what our nondiscrimination policy would look like [if we were to allow recruiters]," said VLS professor Jackie Gardina. "Would we remove sexual orientation, which neither the faculty nor the students feel comfortable with? Would we make an exception for the military?"
DADT may soon be a thing of the past though. President Obama called for its repeal in his State of the Union address in January, and both the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense have said gays should be allowed to serve openly. With the law under review so is the VLS policy on military recruiters.
"We invite this discussion every year. What makes it more exciting this year is that there is so much momentum for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell that it feels as if our position is gong to be vindicated," said Gardina.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has ordered a 10-month review of the policy within the branches of the military, and will submit report before Congress makes a final decision on the repeal of DADT. If the repeal is passed Vermont Law School says there will be absolutely no reason to keep recruiters off campus.
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