Topic

discrimination in the military

2 petitions

Update posted 3 weeks ago

Petition to Patrick Murphy, Robert Menendez, Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, President of the United States

Justice for Military Sexual Trauma Victims: Pass the Military Justice Improvement Act

Of the 26,000 sexual assaults in 2012, only 3,374 were reported and only 302 were brought to trial. I am a retired U.S. Navy Veteran and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) survivor. And like many other victims in the military, I was harassed, and humiliated by my Chain of Command after reporting my abuse. But a bipartisan bill before the U.S. Senate right now can completely change how sexual assaults in the military are handled - the Military Justice Improvement Act.  As it stands now, any U.S. Military personnel, male or female, who are sexually assaulted or harassed are at the mercy of their own Commanding Officers who have full jurisdiction and discretion in prosecuting these cases. In many of the cases the perpetrator is not prosecuted while the victim is treated as the criminal, ostracized and harassed by their own command and often their military service stands in jeopardy. This is why so many assaults go unreported. Even though I was raped while in the Navy, my case it is a story of command harassment.  During a 5 year period I was harassed, by my command because the Maintenance Officer didn't want "women in his Navy".  Between being raped and continuously harassed I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2001.  I was raped and it was traumatizing, but the most devastating thing was the Command Harassment. The Military Justice Improvement Act (S. 967) changes this by taking the Commanding Officer out of the case and providing a specialized legal group in charge of investigating and prosecuting these cases. This is a common sense step that our closest allies, including the UK, Canada, Australia and Israel, have made to their militaries.  The Military Justice Improvement Act has bipartisan support but needs more votes to pass and it will be voted on this week. Your Senator needs to hear from you about this important bill now!  I spent 20 years trying to run away from the hell the Navy put me though. I was told that all of my problems were between my ears. They tried to Court Marshal me, they harassed me on a daily basis, and when I was transferred the harassment continued because my perpetrator picked up the phone and had me labeled a troublemaker before I even checked in. If the Military Justice Improvement Act had been passed then, that wouldn't have happened to me.  Help us get the word to Congress that the rape culture in the military is still prevalent.  Tell them we will no longer allow our men and women in the military to be raped, tell them that we WILL hold them accountable.  I am taking a stand against the unjust persecution of my brothers and sisters that are victims of MST and harassment. Please join me by asking your Senator to support the Military Justice Improvement Act. 

Teresa Youngs
132,361 supporters
This petition won 5 years ago

Petition to Stephen Speakes, Steven Bennett, David Bohne, Wayne Peacock, Executive Communications at USAA, Joe Robles, Stuart Parker, Shon Manasco, Kristi Matus, Wendi Strong, Christopher Claus, USAA

Stop discriminating against gay and lesbian military servicemembers!

4/2/2013 update: Victory! According to Mike at USAA (information posted on USAA's facebook page), USAA now recognizes same-sex spouses, and partners in civil unions and domestic partnerships as family members. Apparently, same-sex spouses and partners are now eligible for USAA membership on the same basis as opposite-sex spouses. Additionally, USAA informed me that this recognition of same-sex spouses and partners applies even if the couple has moved to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Finally, USAA states that it will clarify this policy on its usaa.com website. USAA, thank you for doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do, and recognizing all committed families, spouses and partners on the same basis, regardless of sexual orientation. _____ Update: See below for Q&A. If you sign this petition, please use a real email address or your signature will not be counted by the system. _______ USAA is a Fortune 200 financial services company that caters to military servicemembers (including veterans) and their families. Members can access USAA's highly-competitive banking, insurance, and investment services. USAA awards membership to soldiers, sailors, marine, and airmen, as well as their "families," which it arbitrarily defines as including only STRAIGHT families. According to USAA, a loving same-sex married or partnered couple does not constitute a family. Instead, USAA refers to same-sex married spouses as "roommates" or "cohabitants". This is USAA's official company line: "USAA is a membership based company that considers cohabitants, domestic partners, civil union partners, and same-sex marriage spouses not eligible for membership." How nice that domestic partners and spouses are lumped in with common roommates. USAA thus awards membership to former (divorced) spouses, adult children, and even grandchildren of STRAIGHT servicemembers and former servicemembers. Nevertheless, it continues to discriminate against gay and lesbian servicemembers by refusing to allow spouses or partners - even legally-wed or partnered in their respective states - of gay or lesbian servicemembers to join USAA. One ex-customer of USAA described how her insurance coverage was revoked after her partner of 15 years, a military veteran, died of breast cancer - all because she was not a "member" of USAA, even though she clearly would have been had she been married to a man instead of a woman. Especially now that the military allows gays and lesbians to serve openly, it is patently wrong and discriminatory to deny an equal opportunity for these individuals to become members. In fact, early last year USAA even decided to award health and other benefits to partners of its gay and lesbian employees, but left gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families in the lurch. USAA has at times claimed that it follows the "DoD" or IRS policy. This is total bunk for a few reasons. First, the DoD policy now allows gays and lesbians to serve openly. Second, DOMA only applies to the federal government, not to individual businesses. Contrary to popular belief, USAA is not a government or military-owned bank. It is a private company that sets its own policies. The vast majority of businesses (including other banks, car rental companies, insurance companies, etc.) have no problem offering benefits and coverage to partners and spouses of gay and lesbian customers. USAA's discrimination is especially egregious because USAA claims to support the military, yet discriminates against gay and lesbian servicemembers - who put their lives on the line every day for our freedom - and their families. Let USAA know that this double standard is unequal, unacceptable, unfair, unjust, unwarranted, and un-American! ALL of our proud men and women in the U.S. Military deserve equal treatment. Demand that USAA stop this discrimination against our troops and their families now! _______________________________________ NOTE: Same-sex couples in California may have a legal remedy pursuant to the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Please see "petition updates" for details. _______________________________________ Question and Answers Q: USAA tells me that they will list my same-sex spouse or partner on my insurance policy. What's the problem? A: This confuses two separate issues. Each state regulates its own insurance, and some states require USAA to list legally married couples on insurance policies. Likewise, even roommates can be listed on insurance policies - for an additional premium - regardless of the state (even in Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, etc.) However, USAA has absolute discretion in most states regarding how it refers to same-sex spouses or domestic partners, and whether it will make those spouses or partners members of USAA, as opposite-sex spouses are. The current USAA policy is to refer to spouses as "roommates" or "cohabitants", and that same-sex spouses or domestic partners are not eligible for membership with USAA. This is where the discrimination comes in. USAA could just as easily treat gay and lesbian servicemembers and veterans with respect, and correctly refer to their spouses and partners as such, rather than roommates, which is totally disrespectful. Likewise, USAA could just as easily treat same-sex spouses as spouses, and grant them membership to USAA. It chooses not to do so. Q: I have seen several posts on USAA's facebook wall that make it seem like USAA's policy is not discriminatory. A: USAA is referring to its policies regarding listing additional insured on insurance policies, which is completely separate. USAA is obfuscating the issue to try to cover up its discrimination. See above. Q: Do you have proof? A: Yes, if you click on "petition updates" above, you can see that numerous servicemembers and veterans have documented the discrimination against their same-sex spouses or partners. In addition, USAA is refusing to clarify its policy in writing regarding membership eligibility at the moment. Once and if additional information is received, it will be posted in the "petition updates" section. Q: I'm not gay, so why should I care? A: Regardless of your personal views on gay marriage or other forms of partnership, the issue is that some states have chosen to treat gays and lesbians equally, either through same-sex marriage, or through civil unions and domestic partnerships. Polls show that a majority of Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of granting gays and lesbians the right to enter into civil unions and domestic partnerships, and that actually a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage. Regardless, though, the issue is treating all families with respect and dignity. If a loving couple is married or partnered in their respective state, then institutions should treat them equally. This is especially true where one or both of the partners or spouses has served our country proudly, and put his/her life on the line to protect this country and our freedom. Q: Do I have legal recourse? A: It depends. You should consult with an attorney, and this is not intended to be legal advice. In California however, all businesses are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, and even marital status. This may mean that if you are a California resident, under the Unruh Civil Rights Act USAA is required to treat your same-sex domestic partner or spouse as it would any opposite-sex married couple, which would include granting your significant other full member status. In other states, the answer is more unclear, but you are probably not protected. This is why it's especially important for USAA to do the right thing and choose to treat same-sex spouses and domestic partners equally, regardless of whether local laws require it to do so. USAA should not get away with doing the bare legal minimum. Q: How do you know all this? A: I worked at USAA for a year. In addition, I have spoken to numerous members who have reported discrimination against their same-sex spouses or partners, and have scoured the web for additional reports. Q: Why do you hate USAA? A: I don't. On the contrary, I love USAA. That's why I worked for them. I've been a USAA member since 2005. I think they are a superb organization for the most part, and have outstanding customer service (except in this regard, although from what I hear the customer service has been on the decline in the past few years even generally). Most employees at USAA care deeply about the military. If I hated USAA, I would simply wash my hands of the organization, and certainly not be so passionate about encouraging them change their policies. I just want USAA to do the right thing and to treat all servicemembers and their families with dignity. Q: Who are you? A: My name is Jason Cabot. I am a third year student at Harvard Law School, and I am graduating in May 2012. I would not necessarily consider myself an activist, but I do feel passionately that USAA should do the right thing and treat all gay and lesbian servicemembers, veterans, and their families equally, regardless of sexual orientation. Q: Why do you think USAA is so recalcitrant in its treatment of gays and lesbians? A: This is strictly my personal opinion. USAA is based in Texas. Even though the majority of American servicemembers, and the vast majority of the American public, supported the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, USAA's management is led by an older generation. Almost every member on its board of directors is a retired general or flag officer. See https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/about_usaa_corporate_governance_board_of_directors. Likewise, out of the 11 members of USAA's executive council (top management), all 10 are white, 9 are male, and all (or nearly all) are beyond the age of 50. See https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/about_usaa_corporate_governance_executive_council. Moreover, to my knowledge, every single member on its executive council is a staunch republican. Looking up the donation records (which are public records) for the 2008 election cycle, it appears that every one (for whom I could find donation records) donated to McCain in 2008 and most donated to either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney in 2012. Moreover, every executive (Assistant Vice President or above) whose donation records I could find donated to a republican candidate. Statistically speaking, such individuals are not likely to be very supportive of gay rights. USAA is simply not an organization that is very tolerant of different viewpoints. Most of its executives, even some who might otherwise lean democratic or be supportive of gay rights, donate to republican candidates in a desire to conform and not stick out from the group. Donating to a democratic candidate, or voicing support for LGBT rights, is unfortunately probably a career ender among the executive ranks. This is an attitude that needs to change.

Jason Cabot
495 supporters