"I always hoped we could do the right thing here - and deliver a military justice system that is free from bias and conflict of interest - a military justice system that is worthy of the brave men and women who fight for us," said Senator Gillibrand in comments delivered after the vote.
MJIA, S. 1752, would have removed the prosecution of sexually violent crimes in the military from the chain-of-command and given the responsibility to independent military prosecutors. It was originally an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (NDAA), but Senator Gillibrand re-introduced it as a separate stand-alone measure. The Armed Services Committee and the Pentagon heavily opposed the bill.
Senator Gillibrand also thanked the effort and commitment of those who had helped her champion the bill, including especially survivors of sexual assault in the military. "We owe our gratitude to the brave survivors who, despite being betrayed by their chain of command, continue to serve their country by fighting for a justice system that will help make sure no one else suffers the same tragedy they did Their struggles, sacrifice and courage inspire me every day. They may not wear the uniform anymore, but they believe so strongly in these reforms that for a full year now, they marched the halls of this Congress, reliving the horror they endured, telling their stories, in hopes that no one else who serves our country has to suffer as they did. Tragically, today the Senate failed them." The Senator vowed, however, that "we will not walk away, we will continue to work harder than ever in the coming year to strengthen our military."
After voting against MJIA, the Senate then voted to advance the Victim Protection Act of 2014, which would expand upon reforms passed last year - such as prohibiting defendants from using evidence of their good military character to fight charges - but would continue to allow commanders to handle sexual assault within their ranks.
President Obama in December called for a year-long review of military sexual trauma and the steps being taken to reduce it. The 2014 NDAA also included provisions to address military sexual assault. Under the 2014 NDAA, an individual in the military who sexually assaults another will face dishonorable discharge, and commanders will not be able to overturn jury decisions. Legal assistance will be provided for victims, and retaliation against a victim will be punished.
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 3/6/14; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Press Release 3/6/14; OpenCongress; Feminist Newswire 12/23/13, 1/2/14, 2/10/14
10/7/2015 Study Finds US Gender Wage Gap Persists - Data compiled by the US Census Bureau this week once again demonstrates a gender wage gap, showing that American women who work full-time, year-round jobs on average earn 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. . . .
10/6/2015 Australia Deports Anti-Abortion Extremist Troy Newman - Anti-abortion extremist Troy Newman has been deported from Australia after an appeal to remain in the country failed to convince the High Court.
Newman was scheduled to speak at a 10-day Right To Life Australia event, but was detained in Denver, Colorado after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton cancelled his visa citing as grounds for revocation Newman's prior history of promoting violence against abortion providers and their patients. . . .
10/6/2015 Sheryl Sandberg Releases Women In the Workplace Study - Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and the founder of Lean In has launched Women In The Workplace, a study that looks at the state of women in corporate America.
The study, which was released last week, is an ongoing partnership between Lean In and McKinsey & Company. . . .