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Panelists to Discuss VLS Ban on Military Recruiting

March 8, 2010

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- In the wake of the nation's top defense officials calling for an end to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Vermont Law School will host a town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m., Tues., March 16, to discuss its ban of military recruiting on campus until openly gay men and women are allowed to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

The VLS Gay-Straight Alliance and Student Bar Association will host the JAG/Solomon Amendment meeting, which is free and open to the public in the Chase Community Center. The meeting originally was slated for Feb. 24 but was postponed due to a snowstorm.

Vermont Law School is one of two law schools in the nation that bar military recruiters because of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, which allows gay men and lesbians to serve as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret.

Panelists will discuss the school's non-discrimination policy and the Solomon Amendment, the federal law that withholds some federal research money from law schools and universities that do not give military recruiters the same access to campus as other employers.

The panel will include Vice Dean Gil Kujovich; VLS trustee Robert Rachlin, the senior director of Vermont's largest law firm, Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC; professors Greg Johnson and Jackie Gardina; and Dan Miller, a military veteran and current VLS student.

"Vermont Law School isn't non-military. We're non-discriminatory," Gardina said. "Repealing ‘don't ask, don't tell' will make the military more effective, and many VLS students are taking an active role in trying to repeal this law."

Johnson added: "As Congress and the military begin to reconsider the wisdom of ‘don't ask, don't tell,' VLS's longstanding opposition to that policy deserves renewed attention. This event offers an opportunity for everyone in the community to weigh in on an issue of national importance."

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law in 2006, but President Obama opposes the law and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee on Feb. 1 that the policy should be repealed. The Pentagon plans to conduct a year-long review before Congress is expected to vote on the matter. The House of Representatives has had a bill pending since 2006 to repeal the law, and the Senate introduced a bill earlier this month. More than 13,000 members of the military have been discharged since the law was enacted in 1993.

"This JAG/Solomon Amendment panel will open some eyes because most people have no idea how ‘don't ask, don't tell' really operates," said Kathy Stickel, a VLS student who served in the Army and who is also bi-sexual. "The law is wrong, it's inefficient and it violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection on due process of law. I'm proud to attend a law school that refuses to break the highest law of the land even when religious conservatives in government positions threaten or cajole others into trashing their principles for fiscal expediency."

CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations
 802-831-1106 , jcramer@vermontlaw.edu

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