For Immediate Release
Aug. 9, 2012
Molly Shearer:  917-376-0013
Chris Serres: 702-386-5231

Advocates call on Marine Corps to cease funding of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

New York, NY  --  Outraged by sexist and homophobic remarks, a delegation of  military veterans, labor activists, and organizations opposed to violence against women today will deliver more than 10,000 petitions to an Armed Forces recruiting station in Times Square, calling on the U.S. Marine Corps to cease funding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

“The military’s sponsorship of the Ultimate Fighting Championship does a disservice to our men and women in uniform,” said Nancy Parrish, President of Protect Our Defenders, a national group that advocates for survivors of military sexual assault. “UFC fighters have repeatedly used homophobic and sexist behavior and remarks without censure by the UFC. We call on Defense Secretary Panetta to immediately stop funding the UFC.  Our military should not tolerate denigrating attitudes and behaviors toward women. It can and should be a model for equal opportunity, and it should sponsor organizations that reflect that principle.”

The Marine Corps has spent more than $2 million sponsoring the UFC, the nation’s largest promoter of cage fighting events. The Marines have continued to air commercials during televised UFC events, even after groups have publicly criticized the UFC for tolerating jokes about rape, homophobic slurs and sexually explicit remarks that are demeaning towards women. To watch a video of veterans objecting to the military’s sponsorship of the UFC, click here: http://youtu.be/t_cjTZCrMeQ

The offensive remarks by people associated with the UFC conflict with the Defense Department’s stated commitment to tolerance and to diversity in the military. In a June 15th videotaped message recognizing Gay Pride Month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “I remain committed to removing as many barriers as possible to make America’s military a model of equal opportunity.”  In addition, Mr. Panetta said the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law “reminds us that integrity and respect remain the cornerstones of our military culture.”

Since May, more than 10,000 people nationwide have signed a petition calling on the Marine Corps to “renounce its support of the UFC immediately” and to refrain from using taxpayer money to support the UFC. For more information, visit www.UnfitfortheCorps.org

According to a poll on the official blog of the Marine Corps, 65 percent of respondents as of July 31st voted “No” to the question, “With a veterans group coming out against the practice, do you think the Marine Corps should continue to support the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)?”

“As a U.S. Army veteran, I am very disturbed by the relationship between the Marine Corps and the UFC,” said Jess Corbett, a U.S. Army veteran from New Haven, Conn. who will join the delegation in Times Square. “When a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine enlists, they swear to uphold principles like honor, loyalty, selfless service, personal courage, respect and integrity. By aligning itself with the UFC, the Marine Corps is dishonoring every man and woman who wears the uniform. I would hope that in light of certain hateful remarks that the Marine Corps would make the right decision and sever ties with the UFC.”

In an Aug. 1 letter to Defense Secretary Panetta, leaders of a broad coalition of local, state and national organizations committed to promoting tolerance and diversity in the military demanded that Mr. Panetta immediately cease taxpayer funding of the UFC. For a copy of the letter to Mr. Panetta, click here:  http://bit.ly/lttrPanetta

What:    Delivery of 10,000 petitions demanding the military cease funding of the Ultimate Fighting Championship

When:    Noon/12  p.m. EDT on Thursday, Aug. 9th, 2012

Where:  Times Square Armed Forces Recruiting Station, at 43rd Street and Broadway in New York

Why:  Taxpayer money should not be used to support homophobia, misogyny and hate speech

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