The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell debate is over, according to a statement released Tuesday by 30 professors and scholars — including Yale Law School senior research scholar and lecturer Eugene Fidell.
The Palm Center, a think tank at University of California Santa Barbara, issued the statement after the Pentagon released a study stating that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — the United States military policy prohibiting openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the armed forces — would not cause long-term problems.
The Pentagon surveyed some 115,000 service members for its study, and found that 70 percent of troops believe a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would have mixed, positive or no effect on their service. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged Congress to strike down the ban.
Fidell, who served as a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard and now teaches military law, added that he cares deeply about this issue and thinks the policy is wrong from both a legal and a practical perspective. Fidell said that he hopes the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) will return to campus after the repeal of the ban.
Although Fidell said he had not openly advocated the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell before signing the statement, he has represented clients who were expelled form the military for disclosing their sexual orientation.
“From a legal perspective, it violates the first amendment with regards to free speech,” Fidell said. “It also violates the fifth amendment with regards to due process because it is an arbitrary and irrational rule.”
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell also wastes taxpayers’ money, Fidell added, because the military is forced to remove service members, like those with critical language skills, it spent much money to train.
After winter break, the Yale College Council will release the results of a survey sent to undergraduates this November about ROTC and military service.