The recent attempt to ban transgender military service—foiled for the moment by litigation in federal court—is only the latest episode in a long history of discrimination against sexual and gender minorities who serve or seek to serve in the military. In this hackathon facilitated by military members, members of the LGBTQ community, and legal experts, attendees will first explore the mostly untold history of discrimination against generations of LGBTQ servicemembers and the ongoing harms experienced by LGBTQ veterans.
The first portion of the hackathon will show how and through what means successive generations of LGBTQ servicemembers were discriminated—within and sometimes driven—from the military. In many cases, LGBTQ servicemembers were given less-than-fully honorable discharges. These discharges not only impose profound stigma on LGBTQ veterans, they also frequently bar—by operation of civilian law—LGBTQ veterans from receiving critically needed veterans benefits, healthcare, and supports. To this day, thousands of LGBTQ veterans are still denied access to essential veterans services—with dire consequences for their health, financial wellbeing, and peace of mind. Even though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and predecessor policies are long gone, their harsh consequences persist. A complex web of legal standards, filing deadlines, and other factors present enormous barriers to LGBTQ veterans who seek justice and access to essential services.
The second portion of the hackathon will engage participants in a multi-disciplinary examination of legal and non-legal remedies to enforce the rights of LGBTQ veterans and to honor and fully recognize their military service and unique sacrifices. We will tackle this topic by drawing on not only the perspectives of our expert presenters but also on your perspectives and expertise. We will assess and develop potential responses to the present-day legacy of discrimination by considering the role of civilian law, military law, communications/media, nonprofit organizations, private law firms, government, healthcare, and others.
We invite HLS alumni to participate in the Ideas in Action Hackathon and to bring their own expertise, perspectives, and experience to bear as we look at these timely legal issues anew. We welcome the participation of both alumni with specific subject matter expertise and alumni with a general interest in the topic area.