Don’t ask for special favors, don’t tell half-truths

BY AGOAD@LAW.HARVARD.EDU

I agree wholeheartedly with Lt. Jonathan Freimann’s statement [in last week’s op-ed] that “All students should have the chance to…decide for themselves whether serving in the United State military is a noble and worthwhile career.” Problem is, the decision was made for me, and dozens of my HLS classmates, back in 1993 with the passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass) legislation governing the military’s policy on homosexuality.

Lt. Freimann argues that HLS students joining JAG can “change the policy from within.” As JAG lawyers recruiting on campuses quickly point out to protesting students, they have no say in the policy, and are in fact not allowed to discuss it publicly. DADT was instituted by Congress, and only Congress can directly undo it. If an HLS student wants to redress the injustices of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell from within, her best bet is probably to run for Congress. Fortunately, *that* patriotic career path is available on an equal opportunity basis.

Lt. Freimann depicts DADT as a kind and gentle policy, enforced only when a soldier voluntarily comes out. For another set of perspectives, _Record_ readers can visit www.sldn.org, where the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network compiles the stories of numerous LGB soldiers who have been asked, pursued, and harassed. In addition, at www.gaymilitary.ucsb.edu, academics probe the inanity of keeping qualified, enthusiastic gay individuals out of the service, while the military scrambles and sues to keep more reluctant servicemembers in.

Finally, I feel Lt. Freimann gives HLS students too little credit when he laments their lack of access to information about military careers. The U.S. military’s activities, for better or for worse, make the front page of newspapers worldwide almost every day. Even before _A Few Good Men_ and TV’s _JAG_, the existence of legal units within the U.S. military was no secret. And if you type “legal internship” into Google, JAG’s recruiting page comes up as the first sponsored link. HLS students are perfectly capable of finding their way to military recruiters, if they so desire, without having OCS or OPIA make the introduction.

HLS has simply reaffirmed that JAG will get no special rights – like every other private and public employer, it must comply with the nondiscrimination policy to take advantage of school resources. While enforcing the policy, and thus keeping JAG out of OCI, is highly unlikely to have a practical impact on an interested student’s ability to secure military employment, it makes a priceless statement to the school community about respect for diversity and rejection of intolerance.

–Amanda C. Goad, 3L (Harvard-Berkeley Exchange)

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