A group of women are suing the Department of Defense for unequal treatment in the military and are claiming that the Trump administration has displayed “extreme hostility” to their cause.
A new filing in a lawsuit brought by the Service Women’s Action Network, first filed in 2012, alleges that members of the Trump administration, including President Donald Trump himself, have been openly against women serving in the military.
Specifically, the suit claims that the military’s “Leaders First” policy, which states that women can’t join combat battalions until two or more “women leaders” are already in those battalions, is discriminatory.
“A ‘Leaders First’ or segregated basic training policy for black soldiers, Latino soldiers, or gay soldiers could never pass Constitutional muster,” the revised complaint reads. “Defendant has never explained why women should be treated differently.”
And the group is taking aim at Trump and his top brass. The new filing alleges that Trump, along with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly, have expressed their resistance to women serving in combat on equal footing with men.
The lawsuit cites this Trump tweet, which claims that gender integration is the result of politicians wanting to be politically correct at the expense of the efficacy of the military:
Mattis, for his part, has also expressed his skepticism to women serving in combat roles. In a 2015 speech, cited in the updated filing, he told a crowd gathered at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco, having women in combat roles would require the military to lower standards and would lessen the enemy’s perception of “America’s awesome determination to defend herself.”
“Military service is a touchstone for any patriot — male or female,” Mattis said. “But that said, there is a level of atavistic behavior, there is a reward for the most crude kind of commitment and it is a level of primitive living that is difficult to explain. And I’m not just talking about the lack of privacy for the most basic bodily functions.”
“If you go anywhere in history, you will not find where this has worked,” Mattis added. “King David sent one of his officers to fight so that he could go to bed with his wife, it’s right in the Bible.”
Gen. Kelly, too, has expressed concern that having women in the military would create pressure to lower standards of service. “I think it will be the pressure for not probably the generals that are here now, but for the generals to come, and admirals, to lower standards because that's the only way it'll work,” he told a Pentagon press briefing in Jan. 2016.
The complaint also says that “unit cohesion,” has long been used to gloss over discrimination in the armed services: “That hoary phrase has long been employed in attempts to justify discrimination against African-American servicemembers, openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, female servicemembers, and – most recently – transgender servicemembers,” the filing reads.
In President Trump’s August memo that announcing his plans to strip transgender troops of their right to serve in the military, claimed that their presence would “disrupt unit cohesion.” That order is tied up in the courts, and the Pentagon is currently allowing transgender troops to enlist.