The October 20 NYU Law Forum took on a topic just as it was thrust anew into the headlines: the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In September, a federal district court found the policy unconstitutional, in response to a challenge brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a grass roots Republican gay rights organization. And on the very day of the Forum, military recruiters were on the NYU Law campus, and the Pentagon—in a move since stayed by an appeals court—announced that job offers could be made to openly gay recruits.
Like the successful lawsuit challenging bans on same-sex marriage brought in part by Theodore Olson, who was solicitor general for President George W. Bush, Log Cabin Republicans v. United States disrupts the traditional association of Republicans with anti-gay positions and Democrats with pro-gay positions. Forum panelists used the ruling in the case to explore the role that Democrats and Republicans have played in formulating and dismantling the military's ban on open service by lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members.
Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law, moderated the discussion, which was titled “The Log Cabin Republicans' Victory Against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Are Conservatives the Most Effective LGBT Advocates?” Panelists were R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans and an army veteran; Richard Socarides, of counsel at Brady Klein Weissman and former special assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton; and Aaron Tax, the legal director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which is based in Washington, D.C.
Watch the full panel (1 hr 18 min):
Published October 22, 2010