Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.,speaks to reporters outside the Senate chamber in the Capitol on Thursday, July 13, 2023.
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WASHINGTON — Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican and former football coach, said Tuesday that the U.S. military is “not an equal-opportunity employer.”
The military is an equal-opportunity employer, and the Pentagon has an “Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.”
Tuberville made his comment about the military on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” as he explained why he was among a minority of senators last week who voted against confirming Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Brown is Black.
“I heard some things that he talked, about race and things that he wanted to mix into the military,” Tuberville said about Brown.
“Let me tell you something: Our military is not an equal-opportunity employer,” he said.
“We’re not looking for different groups, social justice groups,” Tuberville said. “We don’t want to single-handedly destroy our military from within. We all need to be one,” he added.
He also said, “Our military is becoming so political that we’re going to go south when it comes to readiness.”
Tuberville went on to compare the military to a football team, saying “You can’t have different groups. Everybody’s got to be together to win.”
He coached the Auburn University football team for 11 years, starting in 1998 — decades after the Alabama university desegregated in 1964 and started admitting Black students.
The military began desegregating years before that, in 1948, after an executive order from then-President Harry Truman.
And the Defense Department currently promotes a “diverse and inclusive mission-ready total force.”
The Pentagon’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity says it “operates to ensure all individuals are provided a full and fair opportunity for employment, career advancement and access to programs without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability (physical or mental), gender, age, sexual orientation,” and other categories.
Tuberville this year blocked the confirmation of hundreds of military nominees due to his objections to the Pentagon’s policy of covering travel expenses and medical leave for service members seeking an abortion.
The Pentagon has said it would continue providing abortion treatment services under certain conditions in its military facilities after the Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, the high court’s half-century-old ruling that had said there was a constitutional right to an abortion.