Despite claims by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter that tolerance is “a practical necessity” in the US military — and that nothing unrelated to someone’s qualifications should prevent them from serving — people who are prevented from serving for reasons other than sexuality aren’t reaping the fruits of that newfound practical “tolerance.”
Tag Archives: simratpal singh
Update: Follow up on Harpal Singh and the status of Capt Singh’s case here.
The US Army has decided to permit three more Sikh adherents to attend Basic Training while maintaining the articles of their faith:
“After months of waiting, I’m ecstatic that I can finally serve both God and country,” Private Arjan Singh Ghotra, one of the plaintiffs, said…
Religious accommodations were also granted to Specialist Kanwar Singh [and]Specialist Harpal Singh.
While the exceptions are notable, they are still precisely that: exceptions. Thus, the US Army is still not officially more “friendly” to service by Sikhs, a point Read more
The US Army extended its religious accommodation of Capt Simratpal Singh, a Soldier who had decided to return to his Sikh practices and had sued after the Army tried to subject him to additional testing not required of other Soldiers.
The response from the Army (PDF) is intended to moot the suit. The accommodation allowing Singh to wear his religious accoutrements is open-ended, but it is heavily qualified with the Army’s caveats that it might remove the accommodation at any time. Perhaps more importantly: Read more
Buried deep in the proposed Defense Department Budget for 2017 (PDF, 5MB) was a little noticed comment on discrimination in the US Army [emphasis added]:
The Army remains committed to ensuring the dignity and respect of Soldiers, civilians, and their families…The Army will provide every Soldier and civilian equal opportunities to rise to the level of their merit regardless of their gender, their race, or their self-identity.
Just what is a “self-identity”? Good question, since it isn’t defined in the budget nor apparently in a Defense Department policy, and it hasn’t appeared in any prior DoD budget. It’s also not a Federally-protected class. Given the context of current events, it seems likely it is intended as a reference to the Army’s foregone plan to repeal the ban on transgender troops, though the Army seemed to dispute anything unique about this year’s new budget wording: Read more
US Army Capt Simratpal Singh sued the US Army last week in an attempt to gain permission to wear a turban and long hair, in keeping with his Sikh faith.
Capt Singh had previously shaved and adhered to standards — he is a West Point and Ranger School graduate with 10 years of service — but given recent changes in military policy that placed a priority on religious accommodation, and his own reevaluation of his dedication to his faith, he sought and obtained a temporary waiver.
As reported in the New York Times, the US Army has granted Capt. Simratpal Singh a religious accommodation to wear the beard, unshorn hair, and turban as the outward expression of his Sikh faith — even while wearing the military uniform:
It is the first time in decades that the military has granted a religious accommodation for a beard to an active-duty combat soldier…But it is only temporary, lasting for a month while the Army decides whether to give permanent status to Captain Singh’s exception.
If it decides not to, the captain could be confronted with the decision of whether to cut his hair or leave the Army. He has said he is prepared to sue if the accommodation is not made permanent.
(This occurred not long after Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va) sent yet another letter to the DoD, as he has for several years, asking that the US military reconsider its policies prohibiting Sikhs from serving.) Singh, a West Point graduate, had previously sacrificed those religious Read more