Vanderbilt Law Review


Ross G. Shank

First Page



Since the close of the Gulf War, the United States's military organs have endured the exposure of a rash of sex-related scandals. These embarrassments have run the gamut from alarming charges of abuse of power in integrated training environments to the sensationalized, adultery-related discharge of the Air Force's first female bomber pilot. In response, Congress has reconsidered the vexing issues presented by recently adopted policies that have changed the roles of gender and sexual preference in the military. Lawmakers have entertained a wide variety of suggested remedies. At one extreme, Representative Barney Frank proposed lifting entirely the existing ban on sexual relations within the ranks. Yet, in the same debate, self-described feminists, noted sociologists," and policymakers alike urged rethinking the wisdom of integrated military units. No one doubts the authority of Congress to regulate military affairs. The long-standing tradition of countenancing restrictions on individual liberties in the military context seems bound for collision with the present social and political climate that places a high value on personal rights, especially regarding sex.