Middlebury

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and the Solomon Amendment to be topic of Jan. 27 conference

January 17, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? On Friday, Jan. 27, a group of experts will gather in Middlebury College's Dana Auditorium from 12:30 - 4:15 p.m. to discuss and debate issues surrounding the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and the Solomon Amendment. The event is sponsored by the Middlebury College Office of Student Affairs and is free and open to the public.

United States Code Title 10, the country's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy enforcing the prohibition of the service of openly gay individuals in the military, has been controversial since its inception in the mid-1990s. The Solomon Amendment, named for U.S. Representative Gerald Solomon and enacted by Congress in 1994, allows the U.S. Secretary of Defense to deny funding to institutes of higher education that prohibit or prevent military recruitment on campus.

Sharon Alexander

Conference participants include Sharon Alexander, deputy director for public policy for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and a U.S. Army veteran; John A. Williams, a professor of political science at Loyola University in Chicago and chair and president of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society (IUS); Gerald Walpin, counsel to Chicago-based law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman and former judge advocate general (JAG); and Kent Greenfield, a law professor at Boston College Law School and founder of Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR). Commenting on the discussions and debates will be Kinvin Wroth, a professor and former dean and president of Vermont Law School, and Middlebury College Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science Murray Dry.

John A. Williams

The first segment of the program, titled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Practices and Perspectives," begins at 12:30 p.m. and includes presentations by Alexander and Williams, followed by an opportunity for questions from the audience. Alexander will share a brief history of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a review of its constitutional challenges, and an overview of the current environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual members of the military. Williams will discuss the varying rationales for the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He will also offer thoughts on the future of the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers and the possibility of its elimination.
 
At 2:30 p.m., following a short break, the afternoon will continue with a debate and discussion of the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment. Walpin and Greenfield will participate in a formal debate, and Wroth and Dry will provide commentary, followed by audience questions for all four participants. Walpin, who authored an amicus brief on behalf of the Center for Individual Rights for the pending "Rumsfeld v. FAIR" U.S. Supreme Court case, favors the enforcement of the Solomon Amendment. Greenfield's organization, FAIR, is an association of more than 30 law schools and other academic institutions focused on First Amendment rights who have challenged the Solomon Amendment's constitutionality. Wroth, who led Vermont Law School to define its position denying the military access to campus recruitment, will comment on the debate, as will Dry, an expert in American constitutional law.

Dana Auditorium is located in the Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125). For more information, contact Karen Guttentag in the Middlebury College Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at 802-443-5388 or kguttent@middlebury.edu.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Solomon Amendment:
Practices and Perspectives
Friday, Jan. 27, 12:30-4:15 p.m.
Dana Auditorium, Sunderland Language Center

12:30 p.m. Opening Remarks

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Practices and Perspectives"
12:40-1:15 p.m. Sharon Alexander, Director of Public Policy for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

1:15-1:45 p.m. John A. Williams, Professor of Political Science at Loyola University in Chicago and Chair and President of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society

1:45-2:15 p.m.  Questions for Williams and Alexander

2:15-2:30 p.m.  Coffee Break

The Solomon Agreement
2:30 p.m.  Introduction

2:35-3:15 p.m.  Debate

- Kent Greenfield, Boston College law professor and president of Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR)

- Jerry Walpin, former judge advocate general (JAG) and amicus author in "FAIR v. Rumsfeld" in favor of enforcing the Solomon Amendment

3:15-3:25 p.m.  Discussant: Kinvin Wroth, Professor and Former President, Vermont Law School

3:25-3:35 p.m. Discussant: Murray Dry, Professor of Political Science, Middlebury College

3:40-4:15 p.m.  Questions for Walpin, Wroth, Greenfield and Dry

The event is sponsored by the Middlebury College Office of Student Affairs and is free and open to the public. Dana Auditorium is located in the Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125). For more information, contact Karen Guttentag in the Middlebury College Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at 802-443-5388 or kguttent@middlebury.edu.