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EQUITY Act introduced on 75th anniversary of American military’s desegregation

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The Equal and Uniform Treatment in the Military (EQUITY) Act prohibits discrimination in the American armed forces.

The legislation, introduced by Congresswomen Jennifer McClellan of Virginia and Marilyn Strickland of Washington and nine House Democrat colleagues, amends Title 10 of the U.S. Code to expressly prohibit discrimination within the Department of Defense against an individual on the basis of race, color, religions, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The lawmakers introduced the bill on the 75th anniversary of the desegregation of the military. President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the miliary and allow Black military members to serve side-by-side with white members.

“America’s servicemembers make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our democracy and protect our nation’s interests both at home and abroad,” McClellan said. “As lawmakers, we owe it to them to ensure all who are willing and able to serve can do so without fear of discrimination. I am proud to join Congresswoman Strickland as an original cosponsor on the EQUITY Act to more fully protect members of our military from discrimination. Particularly as we have seen extreme MAGA Republicans attempt to undermine DEI initiatives in our armed forces, this legislation is crucial and urgently needed. It is past time we codify these protections into the law.”

The first casualty of the American Revolution was a Black man, Crispus Attucks, according to McClellan.

“My uncles served in the military during World War II, and were only allowed to cook — not fight — because at that time, the military saw Black servicemembers as solely capable of manual labor. After their service, they brought home stories to their children of the discrimination they faced and the threats they felt from fellow servicemembers. If we want to recruit and retain a diverse population reflective of our nation’s diversity to the armed forces, we must take the proper steps to ensure a welcoming, inclusive, and tolerant environment for every American, regardless of the color of their skin, their religion, or who they love,” McClellan said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.