Legal Update for the Constitutional Council Case

A new twist in the legal saga that is Vaid-Menon v. Cardona in a suit over the (ASSU) constitutionality of the advisory question about whether ROTC should return to campus. At tonight’s joint legislative meeting, a bill to add gender identity to the ASSU anti-discrimination policy added more ammunition to ASSU President Angelina Cardona’s side of the case. UGS-W2011-10 “Amendment to the Non-Discrimination Statement of the ASSU Joint Bylaws,” a bill written by Alex Kindel ’14 and sponsored by Senator Robin Perani ’13, was given previous notice (it will be voted on next week).

Why does this bill matter? It proposes to add gender identity to the protected classes in the “Non-Discrimination Statement of the ASSU.” That, in and of itself, is well and good. However, it serves to undermine Vaid-Menon’s claim that “gender” and “gender identity” are synonymous, a point elucidated by Cardona herself in a back-and-forth with Kindel, when she asked him to clarify whether this meant that he viewed “gender” and “gender identity” as separate concepts. He answered in the affirmative. To be sure, Kindel is not Vaid-Menon and they each have a right  to argue for different interpretations, but it underlines the fact that Vaid-Menon’s case has almost no standing. (None of this even gets into the issue that even if gender identity were protected, it would take an incredibly powerful legal story to prove that an advisory question about ROTC’s return causes material damage to the transgender/intersex community.) It remains to be seen how tomorrow’s case plays out and whether this exchange presages a similar debate in Hillel.

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