SWLAW Blog | Faculty Features

Rachel VanLandingham on CBS News

May 30, 2023

Championing Justice: How Southwestern Law School's Professor Rachel VanLandingham is Spearheading the Fight for LGBTQI+ Military Service Members

Professor Rachel VanLandingham's expertise and dedication to justice have played a crucial role in a groundbreaking investigation by CBS News.

The investigation sheds light on the military service members who were convicted of crimes and burdened with felony records solely because of their involvement in same-sex relationships. Professor VanLandingham, a former Air Force member with extensive experience in military law, has passionately advocated for the identification and rectification of these injustices.

The story highlights the case of Steve Marose, who was imprisoned after being charged with consensual sodomy and conduct unbecoming an officer. The CBS News investigation reveals that the U.S. military has made no effort to review cases where service members were convicted and given felony records for being involved in same-sex relationships. The identification of these cases has been challenging due to the variety of charges used to expel gay and lesbian service members before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in 2011. Various statutes were employed, such as "conduct unbecoming an officer" and "making a false official statement," to target individuals based on their sexual orientation. An estimated 100,000 LGBTQI+ service members were discharged between World War II and the repeal, facing consequences ranging from less than honorable discharges to imprisonment.

As Southwestern Law School continues to foster a community of legal experts dedicated to advancing justice, Professor VanLandingham's contributions serve as a powerful reminder of the important role that attorneys play in advocating for fairness and equality within our society.

Watch the full interview here.