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AnswerThe Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military criminal code, bars married service members from having extramarital sex and unmarried service members from sleeping with married people. However, the rules come with qualifications. They say that the military will only prosecute when a case harms "good order and discipline" and when the adultery is "of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces." The ambiguity is intentional: Visits to prostitutes are not reasons for a court-martial, but long-term affairs and affairs between soldiers are considered dangerous and deserving of punishment. However, civilian prosecution for solicitation of a prostitute may well result in discharge from the service, and likely a dishonorable form of that discharge.

Unlike civilian anti-adultery laws, the military rules are sometimes enforced. Last year the Air Force alone prosecuted 67 soldiers for adultery. Critics say that the military applies these laws hypocritically, allowing high-ranking male officers to get away with affairs but not women or rank-and-file soldiers. Secretary of Defense William Cohen has ordered a Pentagon commission to clarify the guidelines in an effort to eliminate perceived inconsistencies.

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2011-01-15 15:43:42
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Q: Is adultery punishable in the military?
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