updated 9/20/2007 12:21:32 AM ET 2007-09-20T04:21:32

Yale Law School will end its policy of not working with military recruiters following a court ruling this week that jeopardized about $300 million in federal funding, school officials said Wednesday.

Yale and other universities had objected to the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gay men and women to serve in the military only if they keep their sexual orientation to themselves. Yale Law School had refused to assist military recruiters because the Pentagon wouldn't sign a nondiscrimination pledge.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Yale on Monday, rejecting its argument that its right to academic freedom was infringed by federal law that says universities must give the military the same access as other job recruiters or forfeit federal money.

"The fact is we have been forced under enormous pressure to acquiescence in a policy that we believe is deeply offensive and harmful to our students," said Robert Burt, a Yale law professor who was lead plaintiff in the case.

The funding loss would have devastated the university's medical research into cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, Burt said.

Yale Law Dean Harold Koh said in a news release Wednesday that he was disappointed by the appeals court decision, saying the school has an obligation to "ameliorate the impact" of discriminatory hiring practices.

"We intend to meet this obligation and will work alongside our students to identify the best ways of doing so, in accordance with the law," Koh said. "We continue to look forward to the day when all members of our community will have an equal opportunity to serve in our nation's armed forces."

Koh did not immediately respond to calls seeking additional comment.

Air Force may interview at Yale
Jan Conroy, a Yale Law spokeswoman, said the school would waive the requirement that military recruiters sign the nondiscrimination pledge. The Air Force already has asked to participate in a job interview program that starts Monday, she said.

The 2nd Circuit decision followed the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous ruling last year that the government can force colleges to open their campuses to military recruiters. The justices rejected a free-speech challenge from law schools and professors who claimed they should not have to associate with military recruiters or promote their campus appearances.

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