On Oct. 12, Judge Virginia A. Phillips of Federal District Court for the Central District of California issued an injunction barring enforcement of don’t ask, don’t tell, the law that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. The ruling, in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, which the Obama administration has 60 days to appeal, came at a time when the policy was already under serious review by the military and federal government.
Earlier this fall at Harvard Law School, a panel of experts, who have been part of the fight against the law, discussed these efforts and the status of the policy.
Panelists included: Aaron Tax, the legal director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund; Tobias Barrington Wolff, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, currently an adviser to the White House on LGBT Issues, who has been assisting a segment of the Defense Department working group looking into how a repeal should be implemented; Elizabeth Hillman, professor at UC Hastings College of Law, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and expert on the issue of military sexual violence, who testified as an expert witness in the Log Cabin Republicans case; R. Clarke Cooper executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, which advocates for gay rights legislation, and the Liberty Education Forum, and a veteran from the Iraq war who is now a captain in the Army Reserves.
The discussion was moderated by Dean Martha Minow and was sponsored by the Office of the Dean, HLS LAMBDA, HLS Armed Forces Association and the HLS Dean of Students Office. Minow said the Armed Forces Association had tried hard to find someone in military leadership who would want to be on the panel to defend the law and found no one. Minow stressed that this was a congressional policy rather than a military policy that was being challenged.