Subject: Re: Concerns about ROTC
Date: Monday, May 02, 2005 4:47 PM
From: Michael Segal
To: M Foss; Scott Stewart
Cc: Sean Wilkes; Eric Chen; Prof. Allan Silver

Scott Stewart may have his own perspective on this, but having brought up the disability issue in an article ( and having been excluded from the military because of my medical disability let me explain my reasoning. 
New York City's antidiscrimination laws ( lump discrimination by disability and discrimination by sexual orientation together, frequently mentioning both in the same sentence.  There is an obvious relation in that both are often used to bar someone from employment, and the NYC rules ban such discrimination in the civilian context.  The military context is different, and both I and an openly gay person would be barred from the military even though there is no reason whatsoever from barring us from jobs in civilian life.  Furthermore, one of the two reasons used to bar gays from the military is completely indefensible and I believe we can get it overturned, even though President Clinton failed to do so when he had a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House of Representatives.  It may be possible to achieve a complete overturning of DADT, as you appear to be advocating, but I can assure you that I would be considered a political wizard if I could bring about even a partial overturning of DADT.  Furthermore I think history shows that the best way to achieve such a complete goal is to begin with incremental progress such as the steps I suggest in my article. 
My personal view is that I would have no objection to serving with gays in the military, but my views are somewhat moot since I myself was barred from the military.  I found the experiences of the gay former servicemembers who spoke at the 2003 Hofstra DADT conference to be moving, but I was also moved by an associate of mine who told me in 1993 of his leaving the military after being sexually assaulted in the barracks.  There are difficult issues here and you will find that the best way to make progress is in an incremental way that recognizes the concerns of both sides and recognizes the difficulties of getting Congress to reopen an issue on which President Clinton expended a huge amount of political capital without getting much in return. 
You ask for documentation of what ROTC advocates have done to bring about changes in DADT.  Most ROTC advocates are focused on the ROTC issue per se and their interactions with government have tended to be on the issue of ROTC itself.  However, as someone who spoke at the 2003 Hofstra DADT conference I've been more willing to take on this issue more than most.  As documented in the emails received by the ROTC Task Force I have urged changes in the law:
The next day I took the opportunity to suggest to the Congressional leadership involved in the ROTC issue that I have been unable to find any rationale for excluding gay lawyers from the military, and I stated my impression that "DADT was applied to lawyers as part of the haste created by law written during political fiasco" and urged legislation to remedy this.  I got two prompt and courteous replies from senior aides with offers to help publicize the views I expressed. 
Although the TV appearance arranged by a Congressional committee didn't come to pass because the ROTC segment got cancelled, I think they were sincere in respecting my views about advancing the right of gays to serve in the military.  In addition, when asked by Congress last year what to do about the ROTC issue I recommended a combination of correcting ambiguous language in the law and liberalization of DADT.  Also, my recent article on DADT was also provided to the Congressional leadership.  Although my views on the subject may convey more than the usual weight because I have no stake in the DADT issue per se and because I am proposing a way to improve upon one of the worst political fiascos in the past few decades, I recognize that Congress will not be moved by the views of me alone.  What I am trying to propose is an approach that the Columbia community can take to demonstrate a patriotic will for national service and use this moral high ground to propose incremental DADT changes that Congress would actually pass. 
I'd rather get going with incremental progress rather than engage in brinkmanship for revolutionary change, particularly when the revolutionary change approach failed so spectacularly in 1993 in a governmental environment more sympathetic to gay rights.  Reasonable people may disagree on this strategy, but I think it is fair that we all recognize that there is more than one reasonable and caring approach to this problem.  Also, as one who has done his best to convince pro-ROTC alumni not to cut off money to the university because of lack of ROTC, I'd make the same argument to anti-DADT alumni not to turn the university into an organization to be boycotted if it does not fit your views in each of many dimensions.
On one technical issue, the Task Force has called for measures such as those at MIT or Hofstra to deal with issues of financial aid being unavailable to gays or financial hardship to an ROTC student discovering homosexuality while in college and losing their stipend.  I believe there was no dissent on this issue and it would be part of the package.
Michael Segal MD'83 PhD'82

[Editor's note: Coincidently, the next day (Tuesday) Dr. Segal heard from the TV program that was canceled and as of Wednesday it appears that a segment will be done soon and one of the other participants in this discussion may appear.]