“It’s change into pretty routine, and there have been only a few points. That’s what makes the Marine response on this case so stunning,” stated Giselle Klapper, a civil rights legal professional with an advocacy group, the Sikh Coalition, which has helped Sikh troops apply for exceptions.
However the Marine Corps doesn’t wish to retreat and has by no means given a lot weight to what the opposite army branches do. It’s the smallest department and regards itself as essentially the most elite. It has typically resisted adjustments for years after the remainder of the army moved on. The Corps was the final department to allow Black men to enlist, and it balked at a 2015 mandate to allow women to serve in combat.
The Corps’s argument, time after time, has been that change may hobble its capacity to struggle.
“With the intention to construct squads that may transfer ahead in a fight surroundings the place persons are dying, a powerful group bond is required,” Col. Kelly Frushour, a spokeswoman for Marine Headquarters, stated in written responses to questions from The New York Occasions about Lieutenant Toor’s case. “Uniformity is among the instruments the Corps makes use of to forge that bond. What the Corps is defending is its capacity to win on the battlefield, in order that the Structure can stay the legislation of the land.”
Requests for lodging have been uncommon within the Corps. Amongst roughly 180,000 active-duty Marines, there have been simply 33 purposes lately for exceptions to uniform rules on non secular grounds, together with requests regarding lengthy hair, beards or extra modest bodily coaching clothes. About two-thirds of the requests had been accepted, however earlier than Lieutenant Toor, nobody had been given permission to put on a beard or seen non secular headwear.
Lieutenant Toor grew up in Washington and Ohio, the son of Indian immigrants. His father wore a beard, a turban and different symbols of Sikh non secular devotion, together with a easy metal bracelet and small blade that are supposed to remind devoted Sikhs that they’re anticipated to behave as virtuous — and if mandatory, armed — defenders of the harmless and oppressed.
Rising up within the wake of the terrorist assaults of 2001, Lieutenant Toor knew that many Individuals wrongly related Sikhs with harmful non secular fanatics. He hoped his army service would assist change that.