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Suit targets combat policy for women

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, challenging its policy that since 1994 has categorically excluded women from most direct combat positions.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of a first lieutenant with the U.S. Marine Corps and three servicewomen who formerly served with the Marine Corps Reserves, California Air National Guard and Army Reserves.

The policy, the suit alleges, has been outpaced by reality. Yet by remaining in effect, it unconstitutionally bans an entire class from even applying for upward of 238,000 jobs that remain off limits to them.

“Women are serving in combat,” said Marine Capt. Zoe Bedell, 27, who in Afghanistan was in charge of a 46-member “female engagement team” that accompanied male infantry units to interact with civilian women.

“The modern battlefield means there are no front lines or safe areas. … My Marines supported infantry units. They patrolled every day. They wore the same gear. They carried the same rifles. And when my Marines were attacked, they fought back.”