A majority of the faculty members filed a suit Thursday around the issue of discrimination against gays in the military and threats by the Department of Defense to withhold $300 million in federal aid to Yale University. At issue is the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays, which prevents them from serving openly in the military. “This isn’t about the military,” said Professor Robert A. Burt (right) of the law school, “it’s about our commitment to the principles of non-discrimination and our right to act in a way that supports our ideals.”

Last year the faculty voted to suspend temporarily the non-discrimination pledge requirement expected of all recruiters at the law school in order to protect the university from losing this large source of research funds.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, is the third legal challenge in two months filed by schools to the Solomon Amendment, which requires that military recruiters be treated the same way as other employers, even though they refuse to sign the non-discrimination pledge.

The Yale Law School has never prevented access by the military to its students, but up until last year it would not allow it to use the services of the school’s Career Development Office.

Yale has argued, to no avail, that it is in compliance with the Solomon Amendment.

David Rosen, who is the local counsel for the suit, said the Department of Defense is “not interested in compromise. They are interested in drafting the faculty into its war on gays and lesbians.”

He said the law school’s policy, in effect since 1978, was up until 2001 acceptable to the government.

“Now, if the faculty do not do exactly what they want, the Department of Defense wants to shut down all the scientific research” at Yale supported by federal funds.

“That’s not fairness, that’s bullying,” Rosen said. The faculty are also represented by the firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore in New York.

The suit claims the Defense Department is violating the faculty’s First Amendment rights to free association and free speech, as well as their Fifth Amendment right to due process by forcing them to implicitly back recruitment programs that are biased against gays.

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