Discrimination in the Military No. 119
ADA opposes the "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy used against any person serving in the United States military as discriminatory on the basis of his/her sexual orientation.
ADA supports a policy that will eliminate sexual orientation as a consideration for any aspect of any person's entrance, service in or discharge from U.S. military service. A policy of using sexual orientation as a basis for exclusion or expulsion from the Armed Services is especially harmful at a time when our nation's military is falling dangerously short of its recruiting goals.
Only seventeen percent of the Naval Academy's 2004 graduating class was female. The United States Air Force Academy, somewhat better, had an average first year class of eighteen percent women. The United States Military Academy at West Point's average first year class is comprised of only sixteen percent women.
ADA urges the military to increase its efforts to recruit female cadets.
Sexual assault of female cadets at U.S. military academies is an ongoing problem that is not dealt with seriously enough. Many sexual assaults have been reported at all military academies. For example, from August 1999 to February 2003, nine reports of sexual assault at West Point were found to be substantiated. Yet, none of the cadets' assailants were court-martialed, and two accused of rape were merely forced to leave the academy. Many of the victims, on the other hand, found themselves punished for minor infractions after filing their reports. Additionally, as of August 2003, of the 579 female Air Force Academy cadets surveyed by the Department of Defense, 43 (or 7.4 percent) reported they were victims of rape or attempted rape, according to a draft report of the survey results. In all, 109 cadets indicated they had been victims of some type of sexual assault in their time at the academy.
ADA views with alarm the U.S. military's disregard for justice in the prosecution of sexual assault and rape charges made by its female cadets and supports a policy that will in fact deliver equal justice.
ADA urges the military to provide an equal opportunity for disabled persons by placing them in non-deployment units.
Furthermore, ADA opposes religious intolerance in our nation's military and military academies. In particular, ADA is alarmed by recent reports of religious harassment and coercive proselytizing at the Air Force Academy. This harassment has been bolstered by school officials' endorsement and promotion of religion. Religious freedom and separation of church and state are especially imperative in a tax-payer funded institution that prepares our nation's military leaders. ADA therefore urges that Congress and the military immediately investigate this matter and take appropriate corrective action. The military must take steps to ensure that cadets are able to attend the Air Force Academy free from religious pressure and harassment.
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