U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed his support for fully integrating female servicemembers into all combat units and operations today at a hearing examining the implementation process of the new military policy.
“A story that I find relevant: women were not allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics until 1984. There was a belief that physically they would not be able to run it,” Kaine said. “Today, 30 years later, the men’s world record in the marathon is two hours and three minutes and the women’s world record in a marathon is two hours and 15 minutes. There’s an advantage to men, but that women’s world record time would’ve won the gold medal in the men’s marathon during most of the history of the Olympics.”
“Daughters raised today are going to be raised differently than daughters 30 years ago. When there is a social cap, ceiling or limitation, that sort of gets absorbed by people and they don’t focus on what they might be able to do. They get raised in a particular way with the thought that cap is going to be there. When that cap is lifted, all of a sudden there are all kinds of possibilities, and people start to focus on opportunities they might have. … Just like when you lift the ban on running the marathon in the Olympics and allow women to do it, suddenly they’re fantastic marathon runners, ultra-marathon runners, Appalachian Trail hikers,” Kaine continued.
Kaine has been outspoken on the need to make the military more inclusive and integrated while maintaining high standards related to contemporary warfare. In addition to supporting the Department of Defense’s (DoD) decision to open all combat jobs to women, Kaine has urged the DoD to change its policy banning practicing Sikhs from serving in the military. Under current policy, members of the Sikh faith are unable to serve in the military unless they abandon their articles of faith—namely maintaining unshorn hair, beards, and wearing a turban.