Gillibrand’s Sexual Assault Measure Slated for Stand-Alone Vote

When the United States Senate this week takes up S 1197, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it will likely vote into law measures that advocates for sexual assault survivors say fall short of what is required to stem the tide of rape and assault in the U.S. military.

Despite the support of such groups as the Service Women’s Action Network and Protect Our Defenders, a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that would remove the adjudication of sexual assault and other serious crimes from the chain of command did not make it into the final bill, having been waylaid by an unrelated procedural dispute between Senate Republicans and Democrats.

Gillibrand’s measure, called the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), is expected to see a vote as a stand-alone measure on the Senate floor after the body reconvenes in January, following the holiday recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signed on to Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act, despite the opposition of the Pentagon.

When Congress repealed the military’s anti-LGBT “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2011, the vote took place in a similar manner, with Gillibrand leading the charge.

Advocates for sexual assault survivors in the military argue that until commanders are removed from the process, few survivors will come forward to make charges, since victim and perpetrator usually fall under the same command, and perpetrators are often of a higher rank than their victims. A Pentagon report issued earlier this year estimated some 26,000 instances of “unwanted sexual contact” perpetrated service members over a two-year period, but fewer than 3,400 were reported.

Throughout this year, military leaders have had to answer for a barrage of news reports of sexual assaults and other sex crimes conducted by members of the military, often against their own colleagues, all in the wake of an Academy Award nomination last year for the eye-opening documentary The Invisible War, which exposed a culture of retaliation against rape and assault survivors who came forward to report the crimes perpetrated against them.

The NDAA, which will likely receive a vote on Wednesday, does, however, include a provision that expands a special victims’ counsel program for members of the military pursuing sexual assault charges against fellow service members, and makes it a crime to retaliate against those report sexual assaults by their colleagues or superiors. The legislation would also prohibit commanders from overturning a sexual assault conviction (as happened in February, when an Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, threw out the conviction of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson), and removes the statute of limitations (currently five years) from sexual assault and rape charges.

The bill also requires that any service member convicted of sexual assault receive a dishonorable discharge, and changes the Article 32 hearing process—the preliminary proceeding held before charges are brought—so that those making sexual assault charges can no longer be subjected to the kind of hostile questioning faced by a woman attending the Naval Academy, who reluctantly brought charges against members of the Academy’s football team, only to be asked on the stand by defense lawyers how wide she opens her mouth during oral sex, and whether she was wearing underwear the night of the party at which the alleged assault took place.

Even with those changes, however, survivors’ advocates say that the culture of assault and retaliation that currently exists in the military will not be turned back until a survivor’s commander is removed from the adjudication process.

Asked for comment on the absence of Gillibrand’s MJIA, which would do just that, from the current defense authorization, Gillibrand’s office sent the following statement to RH Reality Check: “We are confident that we will get a vote. Regardless of what happens, the Senator will not go away, she will keep fighting to protect our brave men and women in uniform and to strengthen our military.”

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  • Arshad Sherif, M.A., M.Ed.

    It is very much Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill. All hers. She has been the leading voice on military sexual assault. And the bill that’s up for a vote is all hers. A win for Kirsten Gillibrand will boost her confidence to no end. And this is an extremely ambitious woman. She wins here and she will start to dream big. Really big. And so it is likely that many senators voting against her bill would be also voting against her ambition. They will vote against her measure so as to halt her momentum and halt her political rise. If she is defeated here, she will likely go into hiding for a while. She will be too embarrassed to face the cameras if the defeat is too overwhelming. And there are a lot of people out there who will call their senators to tell them to vote against Kirsten Gillibrand. There are very many people out there who simply can’t stand her. For women, she is just too much. She’s got it all: husband, kids, career, gorgeous looks. And she lives in a mansion. She has what every woman wants. What every girl dreams of becoming. She is completely fulfilled. An accomplished woman possessing high self-esteem. Her life couldn’t have turned out any better.

    But there are also a lot of men who can’t stand her. There are those men who are threatened by powerful women. That’s one group. Another group consists of those who lust for her but can’t have her. For them she generates an enormous amount of sexual tension.

    And the men and women of the Senate are no different. They feel the same way about her as the men and women outside the Senate. So the female senators will be looking to vote against her so as to do her in politically. For the men of the Senate, voting against her measure is to do her. It releases the sexual tension that she has generated within each one of them. Voting NO is tantamount to ejaculating in her rectum. It would feel just as good.

    For each male senator, the vote on her measure is looming. He can feel it coming. The moment has arrived. Now he is ready to vote. He votes NO and deep within her rectum his milk flows. Now he owns that gorgeous white bottom. Now her bottom belongs to him.

    She can go around talking to senators, asking for their vote, but they are tired of listening and tired of the nagging. They get enough of that at home. But she gives up her bottom to a senator for one hour and that NO vote can turn into a YES vote. A lot of male senators. But a sore bottom is better than a sound defeat.

    All depends on how badly she wants her bill to pass. How important it is to her political future.

    She wants it badly. It is so important to her political future. She will get herself clean and ready.

    • bamcintyre

      Disgusting commentary. I didn’t know that this was a porn site. We can analyze the results of a potential vote without doing this as it adds NO value.