Unfortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces convening in the Ames Courtroom today is not all that it can be.
While the arguments will no doubt be cogent and compelling, they will be made without the benefit of some of the best legal minds in our country, those of gay, lesbian, and bisexual lawyers. Openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual lawyers regularly win cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and serve as respected members of other arms of the federal judiciary, yet they are barred from serving the Judge Advocates General. (In theory servicemembers may pay for a civilian lawyer at their own expense, but only one out of dozens of attorneys appearing before the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in its October-November session is not a member of the armed services.)
Our nation today faces particularly pressing military demands and unusually complex legal dilemmas arising in military tribunals. I regret that we are being deprived of the service of each and every talented American who wishes to contribute to his or her country, on the battlefield or in the courtroom, due to the irrational impositions of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, 3L