ACLU Statement on Defense Secretary Mattis’ Speech at the Virginia Military Institute
NEW YORK — Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis addressed Virginia Military Institute cadets this week and expressed skepticism about women serving in combat roles.
Gillian Thomas, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, issued the following response:
“Secretary Mattis’ equivocal statements about women’s aptitude for serving in combat roles were profoundly disrespectful to the brave trailblazers already excelling in such positions. What’s more, they raise serious concerns about his commitment to fully integrating women into formerly closed combat roles.
“Yesterday, a federal court denied the Department of Defense’s effort to dismiss our lawsuit on behalf of the Service Women’s Action Network that seeks to remove remaining obstacles to women’s full integration. We look forward to the next phase of the case, when DoD will be required to defend its practices of segregating Army and Marine Corps women into units with other women, and of segregating male and female recruits at Marines boot camp.”
SWAN’s statement is online here.
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Today, gender bias continues to create huge barriers for many women. Ongoing struggles include ensuring equal economic opportunities, educational equity, and an end to gender-based violence.