Category Archives: GI Rights and Counseling Library

New Military Transgender Policy

By Kathleen Gilberd

At the end of June, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced a change in military policy that will allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. Under previous policy, they were prohibited from enlisting in the service and subject to administrative discharge if they began gender transition or simply announced their desire to do so. With Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 16-005, “Military Service of Transgender Service Members” (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/DTM-16-005.pdf), and DoD Instruction 1300.28, “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members”, DoD has now established an initial policy for retention, service and, eventually, enlistment of transgender individuals. While the new policy has significant limitations, and places much control in the hands of doctors and commanders, it represents a real victory for those who fought against the old policy.

It is time to abolish draft registration and restore full rights to people of conscience

By Bill Galvin and Maria Santelli, Center on Conscience & War[1]

This article was first published first publishing on Feb. 24, 2016 at worldbeyondwar.org. It was re-published with permission in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch. 

With the combat restriction for women in the US Armed Forces now lifted, discussion of draft registration is back in the news, the courts, and the halls of congress. But the problems with Selective Service System (SSS) Registration go much deeper than gender equality. There is little political interest in bringing back the draft. Yet draft registration remains a burden upon our nation’s young men – and now, potentially our young women, as well.

Cushing v. Tetter:[1] Still a Good Tool in the Box

By Alison Carter

This article was published in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch. 

This article explores a goldmine of findings in a 1979 federal district court case where an active duty Navy airman, alleging suicidal tendencies, successfully argued for a preliminary injunction.  The injunction prevented the military from returning him to his unit before he had an opportunity to exhaust all administrative options available for challenging the order to return to duty.

Despite its age, it appears that this case has withstood the test of time and contains powerful holdings that are applicable to many fact patterns encountered in G.I. Rights advocacy.[2]

Hobby Lobby and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act: new arguments for military Conscientious Objectors?[1]

By Deborah Karpatkin and Peter Goldberger

This article was published in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch. 

Much has been written about the Hobby Lobby cases, both before and after those important June 2014 Supreme Court decisions.[2]  Those favoring robust enforcement of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), and full access to reproductive services under the ACA, were understandably concerned by the Court’s ruling that the individually held sincere religious beliefs of the owners of private corporations would allow the corporations to avoid providing contraceptive services to their employees and the employees’ dependents, notwithstanding the requirements of the ACA regulations.  Those concerned about legal protections for religious liberty looked to the cases for their favorable decision on whether closely-held, for-profit corporations would to enjoy “free exercise” rights under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”)[3] based on their owners’ sincere religious beliefs.

Trends in Conscientious Objector Cases

By Maria Santelli, Center on Conscience and War

Published in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch.

It’s called the Conscience Committee and it is a committee of the Army.  It is not clear exactly who they are or what defines the bar they have set, but if you apply for recognition as a conscientious objector in Israel, they will be deciding your fate.

As I listened to a panel of “Refusniks” (draft and war resisters in Israel) on a speaking tour in the US, I felt as though they were recounting pieces of the story of conscientious objection in the United States 100 years ago.

I felt grateful for the substantial advancements we have made in extending and defending the rights of conscientious objectors in the US. Also, though, I considered the significant work still ahead of us.

The Center on Conscience & War has worked with Conscientious Objectors (COs) for over 75 years. Over the course of those many years, we have observed trends of both accommodation and repression of conscientious objection. Recently, our office has experienced a sharp rise in cases from members of the military seeking discharge as COs. At the same time, we are observing – and COs are experiencing – troubling and unexpected events and consequences at the decision-making levels of the different military branches.