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Edley, Four Other Law Deans, Urge Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

By Andrew Cohen

Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley, Jr. and the deans of four other top law schools have sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House Armed Services Committees urging the military to end its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In addition to Edley, the letter was signed by Larry Kramer of Stanford Law School, Martha Minow of Harvard Law School, Robert C. Post of Yale Law School, and Richard Revesz of New York University School of Law.

The March 18 letter, available here, responds to recent testimony by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen. Both announced their support for ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while testifying February 2 before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Congress’s Policy Concerning Homosexuals in the Armed Forces.

In recommending that Congress repeal the policy, the deans’ letter claims that it “directly obstructs our efforts, preventing some of our best and brightest from serving their country in the Armed Forces.” The letter also describes the policy's effects as “marginalization, exclusion, and denigration,” states that “discharging gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members merely because of their sexual orientation is never justified,” and contends that military readiness “is enhanced, not compromised, by ending discrimination that prevents the military from drawing on the broadest pool of talent.”

During his State of the Union address on January 27, President Barack Obama called for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Earlier this month, lawmakers initiated legislation that would end restrictions on homosexuals in the military, and the Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to act on the legislation as early as May.