Women sue Pentagon over combat exclusion

Oct. 12, 2012 at 4:36 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- A judge is considering a motion filed by the Pentagon to have a lawsuit over gender discrimination thrown out.

The Pentagon filed the motion to have a suit filed by Army Col. Ellen Haring and Command Sgt. Maj. Jane Baldwin over a military's exclusion of women from combat posts, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The president and Congress "are entitled to substantial deference" in areas of military expertise, said the Pentagon's motion, filed last month.

The lawsuit contends the Pentagon's exclusion of women from most combat positions is unconstitutional because it restricts women's earnings, promotions and retirement benefits.

Haring and Baldwin are decorated, high-ranking soldiers who could demonstrate that they were denied promotions and opportunities because of their lack of combat experience, said Ann Coughlin, the director of the Molly Pitcher Project, a group aimed at having the exclusion policy abolished.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon opened 14,000 jobs to women, including the positions of tank mechanic and artillery crew member, however, the vast majority of the Pentagon's 150,000 positions remain closed to women.

The exclusion policy "institutionalizes the unequal treatment of women," the lawsuit, filed pro bono by a Washington law firm, states.

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