BY LINDSAY HARRISON
The U.S. military ought to change its slogan. What it really means is: “Be all that you can be, unless you’re being gay.” After the military threatened the withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding unless Harvard Law School permitted the military to interview through OCS, Dean Clark was forced to allow the employer on campus despite its formal policy of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Dean Clark did his part, writing a strongly worded letter in support of gay students and opposed to military discrimination. Students should now protest the military’s assault on Harvard Law School’s policy of non-discrimination by launching an assault of our own.
The military needs to learn that it cannot force our law school to act as a conveyer belt for the military’s own homophobia. The best way we can teach the military this lesson is by filling every interview slot with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students. This strategy can best accomplish the twin goals of protesting the miltiary’s policy of discrimination and persuading the military not to engage in strong-arm tactics to advance discriminatory ends.
First, by filling each slot with individuals that are qualified but for their sexual orientation, we can demonstrate to the military that discrimination against gay and lesbian students is only causing the military harm. Imagine the interviewer’s response to the plethora of otherwise qualified candidates: “Well, you have great grades and you’re on the law review, but I see here that you are a homosexual.” While the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from combat is, in my opinion, irrational, the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from JAG is plain absurd. By marching in intelligent, capable, gay individuals, one after another, we can demonstrate to the military that they are losing out by engaging in discrimination.
Second, by filling each interview slot with gay and lesbian students, we can persuade the military to go away. Imagine hours and hours of wasted time spent interviewing otherwise qualified candidates. The recruiters sent to interview on campus will quickly realize that doing interviewing through OCS will not help fill their quotas for new recruits, and they will leave.
Opponents of this strategy argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unfair to students who really wish to become part of JAG. First, this argument ignores the possibility that gay and lesbian students really wish to sign up. Unfortunately, joining the armed forces is not an option for these students, but that does not mean that they should be deprived the opportunity to interview. Second, this argument ignores the ease with which anyone in this country may contact a military recruiter. Army JAG, Navy JAG, and Air Force JAG each has a website with detailed instructions on how to sign up. In the same way that students wishing to work in other public interest fields must take the initiative to obtain interviews on their own, students wishing to join the military may contact JAG and obtain an interview. The Veterans Association has already indicated a willingness to assist the military in conducting informal recruiting on campus, just as they have done in years past.
Opponents of this strategy also argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unpatriotic and disrespectful of the men and women who honor us with their military service. First, this argument contains a flawed understanding of the meaning of patriotism. Patriotism does not involve blind devotion to the military and support of every military act and policy. True patriotism involves love of our country and of the principles we hold dear — namely, equality and liberty. Attempting to demonstrate to the military that it should not discriminate is not unpatriotic. Second, the argument that filling the slots with gay students is unpatriotic is itself unpatriotic. It essentially tells gay and lesbian students that they should not attempt to sign up to serve. Again, this argument ignores the fact that many patriotic gay and lesbian students are denied the opportunity to enlist. Gay men and lesbians are thankful that we have a military and are thankful to those who serve. We only wish that we too could join their ranks. By filling up all the interview slots with gay men and lesbians, we can show the military the error of its ways and attempt to create a world where gay people can be patriots too.