Workshop analyzes military laws, DADT and their varying effect
Attorneys from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network educated students on the intricacies of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at a workshop Oct. 26.
The workshop focused on analyzing military laws and their effects on gay people, trans people, and those who are HIV positive by working through fact patterns involving typical issues handled by the SLDN.
SLDN Legal Director Aaron Tax reviewed the things that can trigger “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or DADT, which are a statements that one is gay, a gay action, or marriage or attempted marriage to someone of the same sex. He went on to discuss various defenses available to someone during a DADT hearing, including protected associational activities and the “queen for a day defense.”
“These defenses sometimes work no matter how bizarre they sound,” said Tax, noting that oftentimes the military wants an excuse to keep someone in service.
David McKean, SLDN Staff Attorney, noted that there is a discrepancy between the application of DADT on men and women in the military. As a practical manner, women have a lot more leeway in actions that “look gay,” but as a practical matter, women are disproportionately discharged for DADT reasons.
“The takeaway is that the DADT is completely arbitrary in its application,” McKean said. “Some people serve 20 years openly, and some never come out.”
SLDN is a national, non-profit legal service, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and related forms of intolerance.
The American Constitution Society and OutLaw sponsored the event.