Target: Senate Armed Services Committee
Goal: Give men and women in the military equal treatment as civilians when reporting sexual crimes
In June 2013, a bill that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sponsored, along with 33 co-sponsors, was written to give sexual assault victims in the military the ability to report rape sexual assault by commanding officers to someone other than those commanding officers. Presently, as hard as it is to believe, women and men who have been raped and sexually assaulted by their superior officers are not allowed to take their charges to anyone other than their superior officers. This bill was rejected by the Senate Armed Services Committee, making it impossible for Congress to vote on it, and in its place a different bill was offered that made slight tweaks to existing rules without changing this crucial chain-of-command anomaly.
Imagine your boss rapes you one night while you are at the office working late. You go to the police afterward, but to your shock and horror, the police officers tell you that your only course of action is to file a complaint with your boss — the one who just raped you. That is the situation in our military of all places, where our own citizens voluntarily go to risk their lives for our freedom. This is how we presently thank them, and we have two bills that would change this.
The second bill, S.871, the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013, has been put forth by Senator Patty Murray of Washington. This bill also, among other things, would refer sexual assault cases to a higher, competent authority level when there is a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.
These bills are both still in the Armed Services Committee, being held by leaders we do not elect. At the committee stage, there is no opportunity for Congress to vote on the measures. Sign this petition today to demand their release to the Senators so they can have the opportunity to vote on them.
Dear Members of the Armed Services Committee:
When it comes to bills regarding sexual assault in the military, you have an opportunity to allow the voices of the American people to be heard and to be represented by their elected Senators.
Two bills currently in your committee, S. 871 and S. 967, both address a chain of command issue in the protection of victims of sexual assault.
These bills both address the situation regarding when a direct superior officer sexually assaults a man or woman, the only place the victim has to go is to that superior officer. The American people have not been able to have representation in this area because the bills cannot get to the Senate floor where they can be voted on by our elected leaders.
Members of the committee have stated concerns about keeping in place a chain of command’s ability to discipline and maintain order. And yet, if your spouse was raped and she was told the only place she could go to report it was to the person who raped him or her, you would be faced with the same issue that our military men and women have been faced with for decades.
This is how we have been thanking our military for risking their lives for us. This is our military as well; let us as Americans contribute to providing justice for our men and women in service. What these bills do is provide military personnel with the most basic justice a civilian would have if he or she were sexually assaulted. The least we can do is have the opportunity to vote on them and have a say in the treatment of the men and women who defend us.
[Your Name Here]
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