US Marines Can Wear Pink, But Airmen Can’t Mention Orphans
When Michael “Mikey” Weinstein complained last month that an Air Force secretary had the audacity to include an announcement for Operation Christmas Child in a mass email (which he called “openly and willfully proselytiz[ing] the evangelical Christian faith”), her boss was quick to send an email out to the unit “disavowing” her announcement.
In the interim, no one seems to mind that US Marines are wearing pink to raise money for a similarly non-Federal entity [emphasis added]:
As a fundraiser for breast cancer research, the [Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 Reinforced] had their unit logo patches, which each Marine is authorized to wear on coveralls and flight suits, made in pink and white.
“For each patch sold, we donate a dollar to breast cancer research,” said Capt. Anthony Gleis. The funds the unit raises goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of America.
The BCRF is a non-Federal, non-profit entity, and it is unusual for the DoD to alter its uniforms in an intentional and explicit effort to raise money for an outside organization. After all, just a year ago the DoD issued an official ban on participating in the ALS “ice bucket challenge” for precisely the same reason:
ALS Association is a national non-profit organization…Participating in this event is subject to concerns about implied endorsement.
The BCRF is also a participant in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the DoD’s official fundraising effort that is ongoing even now. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason for a military unit to actively fundraise for one charity in that group above any others.
Keep in mind that in the case of the ALS and BCRF, members of the US military were (are) actively fundraising and actively endorsing these entities not just in, but with their uniforms.
By contrast, Operation Christmas Child was treated the same as any other local community opportunity. A non-uniformed civilian secretary included the announcement of an off-duty, future volunteer opportunity in the same fashion that the unit had advertised other similar community and volunteer opportunities.
There was no endorsement; no Airmen walked around wearing Operation Christmas Child patches or filmed themselves in uniform packing a shoebox and challenging others to do the same.
Yet Mikey Weinstein was quick to castigate the Air Force for the remotest connection to Franklin Graham’s Operation Christmas Child, and the Air Force was just as quick to “disavow” it to make him happy.
This isn’t to say there is something wrong with the BCRF or even involvement with it by military members — just as the same is true for Operation Christmas Child. But given the disparate treatment of these events, it’s almost as if the military is more concerned with Mikey Weinstein’s opinion than actual infractions of regulations.