HLS Rallies Against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

BY ANDREA SAENZ

Harvard alum Nat Butler ´68, HBS ´75, speaks of his anger at having to lie about his sexual orientation to serve in the Navy during Vietnam.
Prof. Alan Dershowitz calls on Harvard to use its wealth and power to fight the military´s discriminatory stance.

1L Lam Ho is usually an outspoken member of Section 2. But yesterday found Ho and a dozen other students with their mouths sealed shut, black words running across duct tape: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

On the same day as the military’s Judge Advocate General Corps held on-campus interviews, Lambda, Harvard Law School’s LGBT student organization, teamed with over a dozen other organizations to sponsor a rally against both the Solomon Amendment, which requires schools to allow military recruiters on campus, and the don’t ask-don’t tell policy in general. Students lined the wall of the Harkness Commons dining room, wearing pink “End Discrimination” stickers and holding signs to symbolize the way in which gay and lesbian contributions are “excluded from the table” of military decision-making.

A rally outside the Hark drew a crowd of 150 students, alumni, and staff. Lambda co-president Jeffrey Paik called Harvard Law’s decision to file an amicus brief in the Solomon Amendment case pending at the Supreme Court “a great first step,” but added that “we believe Harvard can do more.” Professor Alan Dershowitz spoke critically of Harvard’s “complicity in this bigotry” and drew parallels to times when law firms excluded Jews, blacks, and women from their ranks, and law schools insisted they could not act without losing financial support. Dershowitz called the military’s use of research money as a tool of compliance, “extortion,” but insisted that if any school had the resources to withstand these tactics, it was Harvard.

Former Marine Corps officer and Kennedy School student Anuradha Bhagwati took the microphone to give her personal experience inside the hyper-masculine, homophobic military. Harvard College and Harvard Business School alum Nat Butler spoke last, noting that he had been a classmate of President George W. Bush. Butler pointed out two differences between himself and Bush: while Bush served in the National Guard, Butler enlisted in the Navy during Vietnam, and while Bush faced no personal dilemmas about his decision, Butler had to lie about his sexual orientation in order to stay in the military. “I was angry that I was forced to lie,” said Butler, “especially in a time while others were lying to get out of the military.”

In closing, Paik urged support of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill to repeal the don’t ask-don’t tell policy, which was introduced in the House by Massachusetts Congressman Marty Meehan and has almost 100 sponsors. He also encouraged the crowd to contact Larry Summers personally with their demands for the university to take stronger action against the military’s policy.

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