January 29, 2015 (Washington D.C.) – One year after the House Armed Services Committee held its first hearing on the Department of Defense's (DoD) updated religious accommodation guidelines, the Sikh Coalition and pro bono legal partner McDermott Will & Emery LLP sent a letter to the Pentagon, the DoD headquarters, outlining the plight of Taranbir Singh. Mr. Singh has been subjected to nearly two years of bureaucratic hurdles and denied the right to serve in the U.S. Army because of his religion.
The letter, sent today, details numerous examples of Mr. Singh taking the mandated steps to meet the requirements for enlisting, points to the ongoing procedural flaws in the process, and confirms what we predicted last year – that the new guidelines allow the DoD (the nation’s largest employer) to continue discriminating against Sikhs who maintain their articles of faith. Although the DoD ended discrimination against gays and lesbians with the repeal of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy in 2011, the U.S. military is still authorized to discriminate against Sikh Americans.
“We remain committed to fighting for clients like Taranbir Singh because no American should ever have to choose between their faith and their chosen career,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Executive Director, Sapreet Kaur. “Our military campaign is about equal opportunity, pure and simple. We must live in a country where a turbaned Sikh American can become a General, if that is their dream.”
While steady progress has been made to secure individualized accommodations for Sikhs to serve with turbans, unshorn hair and beards, and we have won the support of 105 Members of Congress, 15 U.S. Senators, and 20 national interfaith and civil rights organizations to stand with us in this fight, much more work remains to be done. The Department of Defense is the nation’s largest employer. If they discriminate, it gives other employers a green light to do the same.
The letter sent to the Pentagon comes three days after President Obama reaffirmed every person’s right to practice their faith free of discrimination during an international speech in New Delhi.
This marks the beginning of a series of new actions designed to apply growing pressure on the Pentagon to end these misguided policies. Will you help us get the Pentagon’s attention today?
Take a sample post, include the Department of Defense handle in the message, and have your voice heard with us today.
Facebook sample post:
- New case: Pentagon's failure to resolve religious discrimination. False choice btwn faith and country @DeptofDefense http://bit.ly/1Ll3HYC
- No American should ever have to choose btwn religion and choice of employment. False choice @DeptofDefense http://bit.ly/1Ll3HYC
The Sikh Coalition wrote a letter
to the Pentagon today demanding that it resolve the problem of religious discrimination in the U.S. military. Share if you believe that no American should ever have to choose between their religion and choice of employment.