Minow Joins Protest of ‘Don’t Ask, Don't Tell’

Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow joined four other law school deans in advocating for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a letter sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees last week.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ directly obstructs our efforts, preventing some of our best and brightest from serving their country in the Armed Forces,” the deans wrote in their letter. “Discharging gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members merely because of their sexual orientation is never justified.”

Robert Greenwald, senior clinical instructor of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Law Clinic at HLS, said that he thinks the letter reflects the perspective of the majority of Americans today.

“In the past there may have been more of a range of views—in the Law School and in the American public—but over the past years people have gained a better understanding of the rights for the gay and lesbian community,” Greenwald said.

Also signing the letter were the deans of University of California, Berkeley School of Law, Stanford Law School, Yale Law School, and New York University School of Law.


The letter is the latest in the University’s ongoing criticism of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and raises the question of whether ROTC will be allowed to return to campus if President Barack Obama’s carries out his promise to repeal the policy.

In response to the policy, military recruiters were temporarily banned from the Law School's campus until a 2006 Supreme Court ruling upheld the Solomon Amendment, which prevents universities from receiving federal funding if they do not allow the military to recruit on campus. Currently the University refuses to officially acknowledge ROTC programs.

According to Paul E. Mawn ’63, chairman of the Advocates for Harvard ROTC, the organization is seeking official recognition for ROTC on campus with or without the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“As far as Harvard is concerned, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is irrelevant because it is the law of the land and was passed by a Democratic government,” Mawn said.

According to Greenwald, regardless of military restrictions, schools and universities have an obligation to make their campuses safe places for diversity.

As long as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” remains in place, allowing military recruiters on campus would violate the University’s antidiscrimination policy, Greenwald said.

Greenwald and Mawn expressed different views about who is discriminated against under the status quo.

According to Greenwald, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prevents people from making their own decisions about military service, but Mawn said he believes the university’s policies discriminate against students who want to serve in ROTC.

—Staff writer Zoe A.Y. Weinberg can be reached at

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: April 21, 2010

An earlier version of the Mar. 24 news article "Minow Joins Protest of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' incorrectly stated that military recruiters were currently banned from Harvard's campus. In fact, in response to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, military recruiters were temporarily banned from the Law School's campus until 2006.