Harvard Law School Lambda Second Annual Gay and Lesbian Legal Advocacy Conference: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" *

Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, May 2007 | Go to article overview

Harvard Law School Lambda Second Annual Gay and Lesbian Legal Advocacy Conference: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" *


MARCH 2-3, 2007 HARVARD UNIVERSITY CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS

  I. OPENING REMARKS" JOSEPH C. STEFFAN
 II. PANEL ONE: IS "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" GOOD PUBLIC POLICY?
III. PANEL TWO: WHAT DOES LAWRENCE V. TEXAS MEAN FOR
     THE FUTURE OF "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL"?
 IV. PANEL THREE: THE CONTOURS OF JUDICIAL DEFERENCE TO
     MILITARY PERSONNEL POLICIES
  V. PANEL FOUR: SERVICE MEMBER EXPERIENCES
 VI. GALLA LEADERSHIP AWARD: PRESENTED TO C. DIXON OSBURN ON
     BEHALF OF SERVICEMEMBERS LEGAL DEFENSE NETWORK

I. OPENING REMARKS **

JOSEPH C. STEFFAN ***

MR. SORKIN:

Welcome to HLS Lambda's Second Annual Gay and Lesbian Legal Advocacy Conference. This conference was born out of last year's Supreme Court decision in Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc. (FAIR) v. Rumsfeld. (1) Almost one year ago, on March 6, 2006, the Court ruled that the Solomon Amendment was constitutional and that law schools around the nation, including Harvard, had to allow military recruiters on their campuses or give up their university-wide funding.

For the over 160 schools in the American Association of Law Schools, allowing a discriminatory employer to recruit on campus was and is a violation of their mutually agreed-upon nondiscrimination policy, which includes equal opportunity for students to obtain employment without discrimination. For large universities such as Harvard, this would have meant giving up all of their federal money, including public health and medical research money. For Harvard, that was over $400 million. At oral arguments in the FAIR case, Justice Breyer suggested that the remedy for the military's discriminatory speech was not less speech but more speech. And so we at HLS Lambda got to talking.

We decided to turn our focus away from the minutiae of the Solomon Amendment to the broader discrimination of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. We sought to organize a conference to bring together students, scholars, and practitioners to discuss "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" not solely as an intellectual exercise, but to rekindle the national dialogue about the policy almost a decade and a half after its codification.

Our conference comes on the heels of Representative Marty Meehan's reintroduction of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act this past Wednesday. His bipartisan bill, with 109 co-sponsors, would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allow men and women to serve their country without respect to their sexual orientation.

This coming Wednesday, [March 7, 2007,] the First Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the case of Cook v. Gates, a constitutional challenge to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" brought by twelve discharged veterans who are seeking reinstatement in the U.S. Armed Forces. (2) And if this wasn't enough speech, at the end of this month, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will hold its annual lobby days in support of Congressman Meehan's bill.

So I welcome you to the conference. I challenge you to keep the dialogue going after the conference adjourns. And before I turn the mic over to Brad Rosen, our Communications Director, who will introduce our opening speaker, Joseph Steffan, I would like to just thank all of our generous law firm sponsors for their support and thank all of you for attending and our panelists and moderators for generously donating their time and wisdom to make this all possible. Thank you.

MR. ROSEN:

Today we have a very special speaker. This is kind of important; we were actually just talking about this. He asked how old I was, and I gave a certain date and said, "Yes, you were fighting for these rights before I even knew I was gay."

MR. STEFFAN:

Before you were walking, I think.

MR. ROSEN:

Before I was walking. So I think one of the things that's important today, for many of us at this conference, the issues we're discussing are oftentimes merely academic to us. …

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