Congress holds its first hearing in more than 15 years today on the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The lead plaintiff in a Connecticut case that involved the controversial law, says its time to re-examine the military’s ban on gays and lesbians. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.
In 2003, faculty members at Yale Law School filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice over the Pentagon’s on-campus recruitment policies. The Department of Defense had threatened to cut off more than $300 million in federal funds to Yale, unless the school helped military recruiters recruit. Yale resisted - because the military wouldn’t agree to the school’s non-discrimination policy. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bans gays and lesbians from the military. In the end, Yale lost its case. Now, Congress will re-examine “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Law Professor Robert Burt was the lead plaintiff in the Yale case.
"I was delighted at President Obama’s mention of this issue in his State of the Union address. I was frankly worried that he would try to run away from controversy and hot button issues, but he stepped up to the plate on this."
Burt says the idea of allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military is not as explosive as it was a few years ago.
"Moral progress on these kind of issues sometimes moves slowly, and I like to think that in some small way, the lawsuit that we here brought at Yale Law School even though we lost in court was another way of having voices raised about the inclusion of gays and lesbians into the mainstream of our political life."
A Gallup poll released last year shows that a majority of liberals and Democrats support a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Traditionally conservative groups are also shifting in favor of openly gay military service members.
For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.