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At least three small law schools have lost federal funding because they banned military recruiters on campus in protest against a federal policy against hiring openly homosexual people in the military. Three schools-New York Law School, Vermont Law School and William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn.-are private institutions, independent of universities. “If the category that’s being used to discriminate is one that violates the law or has not been justified on a policy basis, the law school is not going to let its facilities be used by an outside employer,” said Richard Matasar, the dean and president of New York Law School in New York City. ‘Solomon’ rises The federal policy that the three schools oppose is widely known as the “Solomon Amendment,” which denies schools federal funding for prohibiting military recruiters. The Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR) is in the midst of litigation challenging the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, which is slated for argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in December. The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it unconstitutional in late November last year. FAIR v. Rumsfeld, No. 03-4433. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a federal law,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ellen Krenke, an official spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Defense. “Until it’s changed, we have to follow the law.” Matasar said that the school would not lose student financial aid, but it would lose all grant money. He said that it didn’t lose anything in the past year, but it has been notified that it is no longer eligible for federal grants. “These are individual institutional decisions that have to be made,” Matasar said. “Other schools have to decide for themselves and what policies they want to follow. There are real risks. Since we’re an independent law school, it doesn’t affect a chemistry department because there is no chemistry department. For us, the only cost is to ourselves. We are in a much easier position than other law schools.” Vermont Law School, in South Royalton, Vt., made a greater sacrifice, losing “several hundred thousand” dollars a year in federal grants, estimates Dean Geoffrey Shields. Shields said the school was formally notified that it would no longer be eligible for the grants last year. “Vermont Law School has taken the position that we insist that all who recruit our students not discriminate based on race, religion, or sex, or sexual orientation,” Shields said. The dean said he wished that more schools would take similar stances, but that Vermont had greater freedom to do so since it is not attached to a university and therefore not controlled by a university’s policies and need for federal funding. “The purpose of this is a moral stand, and having some modest impact on the government in what seems to be a very unfortunate policy,” Shields said. “In a time where first-rate people are needed in the military . . . some of the most qualified who are gay and lesbian are being turned away. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

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