US Military Adds Sexuality to Equal Opportunity Program (Video)

As previously discussed, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter officially announced that “sexual orientation” was being added to the DoD’s equal opportunity protected classes, a list that includes race and religion:

I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense has completed the process for updating its Military Equal Opportunity policy to include sexual orientation – ensuring that the department, like the rest of the federal government, treats sexual-orientation-based discrimination the same way it treats discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, age, and national origin.

The video of his speech is available here.

In short, this means that if a person faces discrimination or harassment because of their sexuality — whether hetero, homo, or other — they can use the military’s internal EO grievance systems to file a complaint.

While activists have celebrated the decision as the righting of a wrong, there have been no public examples of homosexuals in the military requiring this protection in the years since DADT was repealed.

Like General Tammy Smith before him, Secretary Carter made a reference to the military needing to be a “meritocracy.”  Again, the word makes no sense in context.  A meritocracy is a culture in which individuals are recognized only for the value of their contribution to the organization — not for their individual personal characteristics.  But both General Smith and Secretary Carter made this statement at functions whose purpose was to highlight not the merit of individuals, but their individual, personal sexuality.  In a manner of speaking, a meritocracy would be blind to sexuality; it wouldn’t celebrate it.

Secretary Carter also made a few fairly important statements [emphasis added]:

Because we believe in getting to a place where no one serves in silence, and where we treat all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines with the dignity, and the respect, that they deserve

Discrimination of any kind has no place in America’s armed forces.

Recognizing that our openness to diversity is one of the things that have allowed us to be the best in the world, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so. And we must start from a position of inclusivity, not exclusivity. Anything less is not just plain wrong; it’s bad defense policy, and puts our future strength at risk.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said no one should serve in silence, and everyone should be treated with respect.  He also said everyone who is able to serve should have the “full and equal opportunity to do so.”

Where does that leave Sikhs, who are clearly able to serve but do not have the “full and equal opportunity to do so?”  Where does that leave Christians, Muslims, and others who some would say are forced to “live in silence” because they face sanction for expressing their beliefs?  How can men and women of every faith have an “equal opportunity to serve” when the perception is some are threatened with discharge when they do nothing more than express their beliefs?

“Religion” was already a protected class in the EO system, and religious expression is protected by law.

It would be encouraging to see the US military intentionally highlight military leaders of faith, just as the military has intentionally celebrated its “LGBT leadership.”

It would also be encouraging to see a senior military leader affirm the virtue of troops of faith, as well as the need for inclusivity of faith due to its impact on recruitment and readiness — just as these leaders have done for sexuality.

Also at Time, Army Times, BuzzFeed, Christian Today, the Christian Examiner, and Defense.gov.

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