Lamda Law Association, an LGBT student organization at Cornell Law School, is planning to protest military recruitment at the law school due to the uncertainty of the status of transgender individuals serving and enlisting in the military.
The protest against military recruitment will take place on Sept. 21 at the law school while a military recruiter is on campus. According to Lambda president David Eichert law ’20, the ban further marginalizes transgender people who are already marginalized in society.
In July 2017, President Donald Trump tweeted that “the United States Government will not accept or allow … transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Since then, the ban has gone in front of several courts and was lifted; however, transgender people still struggle to enlist in the military as they stay stuck in a legal limbo, The New York Times reported.
The goal of the protest is mainly “to draw attention to the fact that transgender people are already marginalized and discriminated against in society,” Eichert told The Sun. “They are stuck in this limbo of not knowing what’s happening. It’s fundamentally unfair that some students are able to apply for these jobs and not others.”
The anti-discrimination policy of the law school prohibits “discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, or handicap,” according to the school’s website. The law school requires all employers to adhere to this policy, and employers who fail to uphold the policy may be denied facilities of the Career Services Office.
Although the dean of the law school Dean Eduardo Peñalver recognized that a transgender ban does violate their anti-discrimination policy in September 2017, the law school will continue to allow military recruitment because of a federal law, Solomon Amendment, that will deny federal funding to institutions that do not give military recruiters the same access as other employers on campus.
“We continue to support and respect those talented and capable Cornell Law Students who choose careers in the United States military,” Peñalver wrote in the September 2017 statement. “We nonetheless deplore this unprecedented step backwards in the progress towards greater tolerance and inclusion in our nation’s military.”
Lambda will also be presenting a letter about the transgender ban and military recruitment at their protest. Two other student organizations, National Lawyers Guild and American Constitution Society have expressed their support.
Eichert hopes that Cornell will take a stronger stance on the issue if the ban were to be implemented.
“If the transgender ban were fully enforced, I would expect Cornell to have a much [stronger] showing,” Eichert said. “But I think right now given the current legal complexities of the situation, I think Cornell, at least Cornell Law School is doing a pretty good job.”
Currently, the implementation of the ban is on hold. In March, Trump announced a revised policy which would allow some transgender people to serve. According to the Human Rights Council, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was the latest court to deny the implementation of the ban this July, referencing its discriminatory nature.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misrepresented the anti-discrimination policy of the Cornell Law School.