Monday, December 12, 2005

This Just In

Writing over at the conservative-leaning Fox News, former Texas Congressman Martin Frost argues that colleges and universities should not be permitted to bar military recruiters:
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on a case challenging the legality of the Solomon amendment -- the action by Congress to withdraw federal funding from any college or university that bans military recruiters from its campus.

A number of law schools from around the country had challenged the Solomon amendment on the basis that the schools have a constitutional right to ban military recruiters because of their disagreement with the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy involving gays. Under the policy, anyone who admits to being gay is not permitted to serve in the military.

During my 26 years in Congress, I voted for the Solomon amendment and believe it should be upheld by the Supreme Court.

My record in favor of rights for gays and lesbians was consistent as a member of Congress. I was a co-sponsor of ENDA, the legislation outlawing discrimination against gays in employment and housing, and I voted against the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

So why do I support the Solomon amendment?

First, and foremost, we need the best and brightest minds in the military, particularly in JAG (the legal branch). We need military lawyers who will question guidelines permitting torture of prisoners that are inconsistent with the Geneva Accords or that are likely to embarrass our government.

Also, our military needs cultural as well as ethnic diversity. No one is seriously proposing bringing back the draft, but one of the good things about the military draft was that it served as a great societal leveler. To the extent that any system can, it assured that our military was composed of people from all income levels and all backgrounds.

We need the sons and daughters of the privileged just as we need the sons and daughters of middle income America serving our country. A truly diverse military gives everyone in our country a personal stake in decisions made by our civilian and military leaders.

Additionally, there is a degree of a double standard in the current debate. Where were the law schools at our universities and colleges when the military practiced segregation of the races (something finally ended by President Truman)? Did our law schools ban military recruiters as a matter of principle when our military was segregated? Did they ban recruiters when women could only be nurses or serve in separate outfits like the WACS and the WAVES rather than competing with men in most branches as they do today?
Somehow, the banning of anyone from speaking or making a presentation a college campus leaves me with an uneasy feeling.

It smacks of censorship, which, in my opinion, is contrary to a college's mission of fostering the free exchange of thoughts and ideas.

I believe that those who attend our colleges and universities should be free to make up their own minds whether or not any particular organization's message has validity, and that these students are old enough to decide for themselves whether or not serving in uniform is the right career choice.
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