In addition to breaking the law, familial status discrimination violates Executive Orders and DoD Directives.  The issue also reveals Service regulations that claim to prohibit “unlawful discrimination”, yet fail to protect members without dependents from discrimination based on familial status.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Executive Order 13583, Government-Wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan

  • Directs executive departments and agencies to develop and implement a more comprehensive, integrated, and strategic focus on diversity and inclusion as a key component of their human resources strategies. This approach should include a continuing effort to identify and adopt best practices to promote diversity and inclusion and to identify and remove any barriers to equal employment opportunity, consistent with merit system principles and applicable law(Executive departments have failed to identify and remove barriers to equal opportunity with regard to familial status.)

  • Defines diversity broadly, including, but not limited to, the legally protected categories(According to the Fair Housing Act, familial status is a legally-protected category.)

  • Defines workforce diversity as a collection of individual attributes that together help agencies pursue organizational objectives efficiently and effectively. These include, but are not limited to, characteristics such as national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures(According to the Fair Housing Act, “family” includes a single individual.  Therefore, a single individual is a type of family structure.)

  • Establishes a priority to “Fully and timely comply with all Federal laws, regulations, Executive orders, management directives, and policies related to promoting diversity and inclusion in the Federal workforce.”  (The Fair Housing Act was amended in 1988.  Housing discrimination based on familial status has continued unabated for 30 years.  Clearly, the executive departments have failed to “fully and timely comply with all Federal laws”.)

DOD LEVEL GUIDANCE

DoDD 1020.2, Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity in the DoD

  • Establishes policy and assigns responsibilities to provide an overarching framework for addressing unlawful discrimination and promoting equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion.

  • (Glossary, Part II)  Unlawful discrimination is defined as disparate treatment or harassment of an individual or group based on a prohibited factor contrary to federal law or regulation.  (Note that this definition does include the Fair Housing Act prohibition against discrimination based on familial status.  Keep that in mind when you get to paragraph E2.2.b.(1) below.)

  • (Paragraph E2.1.c)  The DoD Diversity and Inclusion Management Program implements diversity and inclusion focused programs and practices to foster an inclusive environment encompassing all the different characteristics and attributes of the total force.  (All characteristics, such as… the various family structures found throughout the total force.  As previously established, a single individual is a type of family structure.  So the intent of the DoD Diversity and Inclusion Management Program is to foster an inclusive environment encompassing all the characteristics of the total force, but it fails to do so with regard to members without dependents.)

  • (Paragraph E2.1.d)  The DoD Diversity and Inclusion Management Program establishes:

  1. An accountability framework, based on federal laws, regulations, and other applicable guidance that evaluate DoD Components efforts to identify and eliminate barriers and gaps that inhibit progress of the implementation of diversity and inclusion efforts(Accountability?  What accountability?  The DoD has been violating the Fair Housing Act for 30 years, with no effort or intent to identify and eliminate income gaps and barriers to fair housing faced by members without dependents.  Where is this “accountability” you speak of?)

  2. Mechanisms to integrate the progress of diversity and inclusion into lifecycle and talent management to attract, recruit, access, develop, promote, and retain diverse talent based on merit across the DoD.  (Our housing and entitlement policies do not aim to retain talent based on “merit”, they aim to retain members who made the “right” lifestyle choices about getting married and/or having kids.)

  • (Paragraph E2.2.a)  The DoD MEO Program promotes equal opportunity as being critical to mission accomplishment, unit cohesiveness, and military readiness.  It evaluates Service members only on individual merit, fitness, capability, and performance(If the MEO Program “promotes equal opportunity as critical to the mission”, then why has it done nothing in 30 years to address unlawful housing discrimination?  Service members may be “evaluated” on merit, but their income is largely based on personal choices, not duty performance.)

  • (Paragraph E2.2.b)  The DoD MEO Program ensures that:

  1. All Service members are afforded equal opportunity in an environment free from harassment, including sexual harassment, and unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity), or sexual orientation(Notice how this differs from the definition of unlawful discrimination in the glossary.  The glossary simply defines “unlawful discrimination” as any “disparate treatment contrary to federal law”.  But in this paragraph, the DoD starts to muddy the waters.  This is where we first see the phrase “on the basis of…”  In this paragraph, it’s explicitly clear that the DoD is going to address unlawful discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity), and sexual orientation.  But was is equally important is what it doesn’t say…  And what it doesn’t say is that we are NOT going to address other forms of unlawful discrimination.)

  2. The chain of command is used as the primary and preferred channel to:​

    1. Identify and correct unlawful discriminatory practices.  (I wish that were true!  The reality is that the chain of command is exactly who has repeatedly refused to allow this issue to see the light of day.)

    2. Process and resolve complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment, to include sexual.

    3. Ensure that MEO matters are taken seriously and acted on as necessary.  (The only action the chain of command has taken on this MEO matter is to suppress the topic.)

  • (Paragraph E3.1.a)  The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness represents and advises the Secretary of Defense on all matters related to the DoD MEO Program, DoD Civilian EEO Program, DoD Diversity and Inclusion Management Program, and DoD Civil Rights Program.  (It is not possible for the Under Secretary to advise the SECDEF on the topic of familial status discrimination.  That’s because Equal Opportunity offices refuse to take reports on the topic, the chain of command refuses to acknowledge the issue, and unit climate assessments do not ask about this form of unlawful discrimination.  Since no data is collected on familial status discrimination, it is impossible to reveal that the trend even exists.)

  • (Paragraph E3.4.b)  The Office of the Secretary of Defense and DoD Component heads develop, implement, and maintain policies, programs, and procedures to prevent unlawful discrimination and harassment based on any prohibited factor(“Any prohibited factor” includes the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on familial status.  The OSD and DoD Component heads do NOT develop policies to prevent this type of unlawful discrimination.  Therefore, paragraph E3.4.b is a lie, which means Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work made a false official statement by approving DoDD 1020.2.)

DoDD 1350.2, Department of Defense Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program

  • Establishes Department-wide standards for discrimination complaint processing and resolution.

  • (Paragraph 4.1)  It is DoD policy to support the MEO program as a military and economic necessity, as stated by the Secretary of Defense, and enforce the provisions of this Directive in developing operating EO policies and programs at all levels of activity. Toward that end, Component heads are charged with promoting EO and affirmative actions, and for eliminating unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment within the Department(Component heads have failed to do so with regard to discrimination based on familial status.)

  • (Paragraph 4.2)  It is DoD policy to promote an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent Service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible. Service members shall be evaluated only on individual merit, fitness, and capability. Unlawful discrimination against persons or groups based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is contrary to good order and discipline and is counterproductive to combat readiness and mission accomplishment. Unlawful discrimination shall not be condoned(Like DoDD 1020.2, DoDD 1350.2 makes it clear which forms of unlawful discrimination will be addressed, and silently excludes all other forms of unlawful discrimination.  [As a side note, 1350.2 excludes two categories that were listed in 1020.2: “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”.]  As for that last bit about “unlawful discrimination shall not be condoned”…  Given that unlawful discrimination based on familial status is codified in our housing regulations, I think it’s safe to say we do condone it.)

  • (Paragraph 4.3)  It is DoD policy to use the chain of command to promote, support, and enforce the MEO program. The chain of command is the primary and preferred channel for identifying and correcting discriminatory practices. This includes the processing and resolving of complaints of unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment, and for ensuring that human relations and EO matters are taken seriously and acted upon as necessary. The chain of command is responsible for creating and maintaining a MEO environment that incorporates the policies set out in this Directive.  (With regard to discrimination based on familial status, the chain of command has completely and deliberately failed to meet this requirement.)

  • (Paragraph 4.4)  It is DoD policy to ensure that the Military Services establish MEO and affirmative action programs that identify and resolve EO problems through formulating, maintaining, and reviewing affirmative action plans (AAPs) with established objectives and milestones, including accountability in personnel management, consistent with DoD Instruction 1350.3.  (Not only have the Military Services not resolved discrimination based on familial status, they refuse to allow the issue to be identified.  The chain of command refuses to acknowledge the issue, EO offices refuse to take reports on the topic, and unit climate assessments do not ask about this form of unlawful discrimination.)

  • (Paragraph 4.6)  It is DoD policy to provide for an environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment.  (This is not true with regard to discrimination based on familial status, which means Deputy Secretary of Defense John P. White made a false official statement by approving DoDD 1350.2.)

  • (Paragraph 6.1.1)  The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness shall develop overall MEO policy.  (To the Honorable Robert L. Wilkie Jr.:  I realize you did not create this problem.  Nonetheless, it is your duty to fix it.  To that end, please refer to the section titled Solutions.)

  • (Paragraph 6.2.4)  The Secretaries of the Military Departments are responsible for EO and for ensuring compliance with this Directive within their respective Services and shall develop policies to prevent unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment, and require that commanders prominently post and enforce them. Personnel should be made aware of the policies and procedures for filing a complaint of reprisal under DoD Directive 7050.6. Violations of the policies set forth in this Directive may constitute violations of specific articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  (The Service Secretaries have failed to develop policies to prevent unlawful discrimination with regard to familial status.)

  • (Paragraph E2.1.16)  Unlawful Discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, race, religion, or sex that is not otherwise authorized by law or regulation.  (By this definition, the DoD can create regulations to exempt itself from the law and self-authorize any form of discrimination, rendering laws passed by Congress meaningless.)

AIR FORCE LEVEL GUIDANCE

The guidance below makes several references to climate surveys.  These surveys ask about other forms of unlawful discrimination (race, color, religion, etc), but they do not ask about familial status, even though it is protected by the same law.  Furthermore, assessments are focused on discrimination occurring within the unit.  They are not designed to identify discrimination in outside agencies (such as the Housing office) and/or systemic across the DoD.  In other words, the assessments are based on the false assumption that the DoD is already compliant with the law.

AFPD 36-27, Equal Opportunity (EO)

  • Implements DoDD 1350.2, Department of Defense Military Equal Opportunity (MEO), 18 August 1995, DoD Directive 1440.1, The DoD Civilian Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Program, May 21, 1987, relating to USAF Civilian EEO Complaints, and DOD Directive 5500.11, Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs, May 27, 1971.  (Because it implements DoDD 1350.2, AFPD 36-27 is also limited in scope to discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  This is reaffirmed in paragraph 11.2, seen below.)

  • (Paragraph 1)  It is the policy of the United States Air Force (USAF) to provide equitable treatment and employment opportunity thereby enhancing unit cohesiveness, military readiness and mission accomplishment.  (Does inferior housing and SIX FIGURES less income sound like “equitable treatment” to you?!)

  • (Paragraph 3)  The Equal Opportunity (EO) program proactively engages all Airmen in the pursuit of equal opportunity. The USAF EO program fosters and supports equal opportunity, the USAF Core Values, and Airman’s Creed, and must be a founded principle in the day-to-day actions of all personnel. The USAF will not tolerate unlawful discrimination and unlawful harassment or reprisal against individuals who engage in protected activity. Airmen must actively make workplace professionalism a top priority and take proactive steps to prevent, correct, and eliminate unlawful discriminatory behavior.  (The EO program does NOT “proactively” engage all Airmen; it doesn’t even engage reluctantly; it flat-out refuses to engage.  The USAF EO program does NOT foster and support equal opportunity; at least not with regard to familial status.  And the USAF doesn’t just tolerate unlawful discrimination, it codifies it in its regulations!  The Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley, made multiple false official statements by approving AFPD 36-27.)

  • (Paragraph 9)  Unlawful harassment, in any context, is a violation of USAF policy. It is the duty of each commander, manager, and supervisor to maintain a workplace free of unlawful discrimination and unlawful harassment, to ensure Airmen under their supervision are aware of this policy, to ensure Airmen can report violations without fear of reprisal or retaliation, to promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate complaints, and to take appropriate corrective action when a violation is found, including disciplinary action, if warranted.  (Every commander has failed to meet this requirement with regard to familial status.)

  • (Paragraph 11)  It is extremely important that unlawful discrimination or unlawful harassment be reported immediately. Failure to report, or any undue delay in reporting, may hinder the USAF’s ability to prevent and/or correct unlawful behavior.  (I made multiple attempts to report unlawful discrimination based on familial status.  Equal Opportunity offices refuse to take such reports.  The chain of command refuses to acknowledge this is even a real issue.)

  • (Paragraph 11.2)  Military Airmen who believe they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or unlawful harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), or national origin should promptly attempt resolution at the lowest possible level. If the supervisor is alleged to have engaged in the offending conduct, the report should be made to the next level supervisor or an EO officer. Reports of unlawful discrimination or unlawful harassment made by military Airmen will be processed in accordance with the DoD Military EO Program.  (There it is again.  Race, color, religion, sex, and national origin are the only forms of unlawful discrimination the military will concern itself with.  So Congress, feel free to pass whatever “equal opportunity” laws you want, because if it doesn’t fall within these categories, we’re just going to ignore you.  It’s not like we’re in a Democracy where the military is obligated to obey the civilian government.)

AFI 36-2706, Equal Opportunity Program Military and Civilian

  • Implements Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 36-27, Equal Opportunity, 22 May 2009. It prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment, and reprisal. It establishes the requirements for the Air Force Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program and the Civilian Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Program.

  • For military personnel, this instruction establishes requirements for unlawful discrimination complaints based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex (including sexual harassment), and sexual orientation; Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) Organization Climate Survey (DEOCS) assessments; human relations education; use of alternative dispute resolution procedures; equal opportunity and treatment incidents; dissident and protest activities; affirmative action planning and assessment; accommodation of religious practices; and appeals procedures.  (And here we see it again.  This is exactly why the Equal Opportunity offices refuse to take reports on unlawful discrimination based on familial status.  Even though familial status is a legally-protected category, there is no publication that implements that aspect of the law.)

  • (Paragraph 1.1)  It is the policy of the United States Government, the Department of Defense, and the Air Force, not to condone or tolerate unlawful discrimination, to include sexual harassment, of any kind. This Zero Tolerance policy ensures that once unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment is alleged, immediate and appropriate action will be taken to investigate/resolve the allegations and ensure any proven unlawful behavior stops. Further, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against any Airman, military or civilian, who engages in unlawful discriminatory practices. Air Force EO policy compliance is a function of leadership.  (Note that AFI 36-2706 contradicts itself.  The first paragraph on page 2 clearly states that the publication only applies to certain kinds of unlawful discrimination, but here it says that the Air Force does not “condone or tolerate unlawful discrimination of any kind”, which would include housing discrimination based on familial status.  So Lieutenant General Richard Y. Newton, III, which is it?  Are we, or are we not, going to condone and tolerate unlawful housing discrimination based on familial status?)

  • (Paragraph 1.3.2.3)  As the EO program is a function of leadership and command, the Air Force shall conduct a continuing program to eradicate every form of unlawful discrimination(Every form?  Or just race, color, religion, national origin, and sex?  Again, the AFI contradicts itself.)

  • (Paragraph 1.4.2)  The EO office identifies, assesses and removes EO Barriers. The EO office utilizes all available assessment tools (Out and About program, Unit Climate Assessments, Human Relations Climate Assessment, EEOC Management Directive [MD] 715, etc.) to gather information, identify, and assess EO barriers to assist leaders at all levels in the removal and neutralization of those barriers to help prevent unlawful discrimination.  (Despite this claim, EO offices at two bases flat-out refused to take reports about discrimination based on familial status. Also, unit climate assessments do not ask about discrimination based on familial status, even though it is a legally-protected category.  Furthermore, the assessments are focused on discrimination occurring within the unit.  They are not designed to identify discrimination in outside agencies or systemic across the DoD.  In other words, they are based on the false assumption that the DoD is already compliant with the law.)

  • (Paragraph 1.4.3)  The EO office provides complaint services. Equal Opportunity specialist/counselors will provide counseling for aggrieved members, assuring complaints are fairly and thoroughly addressed and that final actions are taken in a timely manner in accordance with the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, EEOC directives, and Air Force policies and instructions in force. Equal Opportunity counselors will remain impartial and ensure individual members bringing allegations of unlawful discrimination or harassment understand the limited confidentiality in military complaints, the option to remain anonymous at the informal stage of civilian complaints, and the restriction on representing complainants. EO specialists/ counselors will offer ADR at each stage of the complaint process for complaints that are appropriate for ADR.  (If by “thoroughly addressed and final actions taken” we mean “persistently ignored for 30 years”, then sure, yeah, totally agree.  Good job EO!  You guys are on the ball!  --  And by “on the ball”, I mean “failing to serve your intended purpose”.)

  • (Paragraph 1.5)  The EO office will assist the Commander in conducting a continuing campaign to eradicate every form of unlawful discrimination or harassment from the workplace. In order to promote a workplace free of unlawful discrimination to include harassment, the EO office will take proactive steps to ensure all available efforts are in place (e.g. human relations education, commander’s calls, enlisted/officer professional development seminars).  (So EO is supposed to help “eradicate every form of unlawful discrimination” by taking “proactive steps”.  Not only have they not taken proactive steps, they have repeatedly refused to take reactive steps when notified about unlawful discrimination based on familial status.)

  • (Paragraph 1.7)  Air Force Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (SAF/MR) is designated by the Secretary of the Air Force as the Air Force EO Director, in accordance with (IAW) 29 C.F.R. Section 1614.102(b) (4), responsible for Air Force EO policy, to ensure Air Force programs conform to this policy, and to otherwise act for the Secretary in all EO policy and compliance matters(SAF/MR…  Yet another office in the EO bureaucracy that has failed to serve its intended purpose.)

  • (Paragraph 1.12)  The Judge Advocate General of the Air Force (AF/JA) provides legal advice and guidance on EO policies and procedures, laws, and regulations to the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Staff and to Air Force judge advocates. Functions may be exercised through the Administrative Law Directorate (JAA) and the Air Force Legal Operations Agency (AFLOA)/Labor Law Field Support Center (LLFSC). The Administrative Law Directorate (JAA) serves as the primary legal advisor to the Air Staff and Air Force legal offices in execution of all military equal opportunity matters and military religious accommodation requests, including interpretations of this regulation, and the laws and directives from which this regulation is derived(JAA, how would you interpret the Fair Housing Act, specifically the parts where it says it's unlawful to discriminate based on familial status, and the term "family" includes a single individual?  No interpretation needed; it’s explicitly clear.)

  • (Paragraph 1.14)  The Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower, Personnel, and Services (AF/A1) ensures adequate resources and training are available to effectively execute the AF EO program and that installation EO programs operate in accordance with EEOC guidelines, Federal laws, Executive Orders, and Air Force policy and guidance.  (AF/A1 has failed to ensure installations operate in accordance with Federal laws and Executive Orders.)

  • (Paragraph 1.15.3)  The Director, Air Force Equal Opportunity (AF/A1Q) develops and disseminates Air Force policy on EO programs. Additionally, AF/A1Q analyzes trend data, identifies problem areas, and advises EO offices, through the MAJCOM Strategic Advisor, on corrective and preventive actions on EO matters(AF/A1Q has failed to identify the issue of unlawful discrimination based on familial status.  There is no trend data to analyze because it is not collected.)

  • (Paragraph 1.15.19)  The Director, Air Force Equal Opportunity (AF/A1Q) exercises overall responsibility for managing the EO and Human Relations Education (HRE) programs. In conjunction with AF/JAA, AFLOA/JACL, SAF/GCM and SAF/GCA, formulates and manages mandatory HRE and training programs. Such training is mandatory for pre-commissioning programs, initial entry training, all levels of professional military education (PME), and General Officer/Senior Executive Service. Training programs will include comprehensive material on: leadership roles and responsibilities for the EO program; unlawful discrimination/ sexual harassment; complaint processing; legal implications; reprisal prevention and detection; climate assessment methodologies; and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) systems.  (So training programs are required to include comprehensive material on unlawful discrimination, and that material is mandatory for everyone entering the military and all levels of PME.  Hmmm…  How many military personnel have received training about unlawful housing discrimination based on familial status?  Exactly ZERO.)

  • (Paragraph 1.16.21)   Air Force Personnel Center Equal Opportunity (AFPC/EO) develops, coordinates, reviews and updates the Professional Development Study Guide (PDG) as it pertains to EO/HRE objectives. Coordinates and reviews changes to all PME course curricula as they pertain to EO/HRE objectives.  (The Airman Handbook <formerly known as the PDG> and PME courses make no mention of discrimination based on familial status.)

AFH 1, The Airman Handbook

  • (Paragraph 16.25.1)  Unlawful discrimination against military members includes any unlawful action that denies Equal Opportunity to persons or groups based on their race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. This type of discrimination can occur in a variety of forms to include: in writing, verbal, or in a combination. Unlawful discrimination can occur on or off base.  (As with other guidance, The Airman Handbook excludes familial status from its list of protected categories.)

BASE LEVEL EQUAL OPPORTUNITY OFFICES

At Yokota Air Base, and again at Little Rock Air Force Base, I tried to file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity office.  On both occasions, they stated “it is legal discrimination, and there is nothing we can do about it.”  The consistency of their replies suggests two things:  First, military Equal Opportunity has received so many complaints on this topic that it has developed a scripted response.  And second, the entire Equal Opportunity enterprise is either ignorant to the fact that familial status is a legally-protected category, or it is deliberately ignoring the law.  In addition, their refusal to take a report highlights a disturbing truth:  Equal Opportunity will only collect data on forms of discrimination which have already been acknowledged at the highest levels.  And without data, there can be no trend analysis to identify other forms of discrimination.  In other words, if the military simply chooses to ignore a form of discrimination, then it never has to do anything about it.

UNIT LEVEL EQUAL OPPORTUNITY POLICY LETTERS

A typical Commander's policy letter on Equal Opportunity states there is “zero tolerance” for unlawful discrimination.  In the last 30 years, there has not been one commanding officer in the entire military who has upheld that standard.  (Does that sound like “Integrity” to you?  Does that sound like “Excellence In All We Do”?)  Likewise, the Service Secretaries, the Secretary of Defense, and the Commander in Chief are complicit in the systemic violation of legally-protected rights of service members without dependents.

SUMMARY

The examples above demonstrate that both Equal Opportunity and the chain of command intentionally prevent this issue from coming to light, and indeed refuse to acknowledge that discrimination based on familial status is already illegal (or that it even exists).  The entities that should be advocating a resolution to this injustice are the very ones who are suppressing the topic.  For this reason, it is imperative for Congress to take an active role in righting this wrong.  Just like the effort to end racial discrimination; just like the effort to end gender discrimination; just like the effort to actually do something about the rape epidemic; just like the effort to end discrimination based on sexual orientation; so too shall this effort require Congressional intervention.  The military has already violated a law established by Congress for 30 years.  There is no evidence to suggest the DoD will take corrective measures on its own initiative.