As a follow up to my recent post on a proposed consent based rape law for the military, members of the House Armed Services Committee received a brief yesterday on proposed Department of Defense (DOD) revisions to the military’s rape law known as Article 120. During the brief, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree both made a strong case for the DOD to adopt a consent based statute as part of the new revision. By the end of the briefing the DOD agreed to take another, much closer look at a consent based Article 120.
The political cynic in me immediately says not to get too optimistic about major changes, but the Congresswomen did a fantastic job of convincing a number of people in the room that a consent based definition made more sense. On a bipartisan basis, Members expressed confusion with the current Article 120 and confusion with the DOD’s suggested changes.
Other briefers told stories of how military judges were giving elaborate jury instructions to try and help make sense out of the current law. These stories were particularly effective at convincing the committee members that the force based definition currently in use contributed to making military rape law an overly confusing issue.
I wanted to thank those of you who have already contacted your representatives about this crucial issue. To some of you, military law and Article 120 may seem arcane or over your head, but your representatives only need to know only two things: That you care about putting military rapists behind bars, and to do that Congress should demand a consent based rape law from the DOD.