IX: Equality Finally Reaches the Military
(Dec. 3, 2015) �
Title IX, passed back in 1972, reads in part:
person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded
from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under any education program or activity receiving
federal financial assistance.
Passed despite massive opposition, the
Title IX to women in collegiate and high school sports have
become indisputable over the years. More women - and men as well - are
receiving and enjoying the benefits of organized sports.
But what does the above passage imply?
It might as well read:
It's legal to exclude people from
participation in federally funded activities (other than Education), on
the basis of sex!
The 8000-pound elephant in
the room for the
last 33 years has been women's participation in the military, or lack
therof. Nobody wanted to notice it, for it could open a cascade of
consequences that could lead to changes - changes that disturb
traditional but obsolete beliefs, and could cost some politicians their
careers. But eventually it would have to be addressed, for there is
this law, that men must sign up for the draft or be denied Federal
benefits, student grants and loans, access to jobs, in some states
driver licenses, and basic citizenship rights - not to mention facing
five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
On Dec. 3, 2015, US Defense Secretary
took unilateral action, opening up all jobs and positions in the
military, including ground combat and special forces, to women. It
removes the last excuse anyone - even certain women's groups - had to
excuse women from potentially dangerous duty - the same duty required
for advancement to the highest positions in the military.
Women have been excused from Selective
to a 1980 Supreme Court ruling, that since females were excluded from
combat at the time, that there was no point in having them sign up for
any future draft. This followed the efforts of President Jimmy Carter
(no relation to Ash) to bring full equality to women in all areas, not
just education, and despite the fact that women even then served in 90
percent of military positions then available.
While this was obvious discrimination
women, the primary damage has been against men, who have been denied
access to Federal jobs and benefits for failing to fill out a form that
their sisters need not even be aware of.
Despite all the hand wringing and
boils down to filling out the same simple form men have been doing
since 1980. Registration is not the draft. And while some will say
women could be drafted for combat in the future and get shot at if some
stupid war starts, well maybe we won't be so quick to jump into stupid
wars. A politician starting an unjust war where women would be risked
unnecessarily is a suicidal one. The arguments on this topic have
Women have been enjoying in effect not just a
right but a
special privilege all these years. This hypocrisy is not right, two
wrongs do not make a right, and it weakens the argument for women's
rights. It's long past time to get rid of it.
This is in effect, Title IX for the
military. As in
the sports realm, once strongly-held, but long obsolete beliefs are let
go, everyone benefits, in ways unimaginable. Now can we have a Title IX
for everything else?
December 8, 2015, the Defense Department will make its recommendation
on this matter, which will almost certainly be to go forward with
female registration. It would then go to Congress, which would have to
amend the Selective Service Law and remove the discriminatory language.
Passage is not so certain, as many
conservative districts would be allergic to the issue. However, using
the technique known as a rider, the issue need not be directly voted on
in a standalone bill, in fact it is extremely unlikely that what might
be regarded as a change to an existing law would get its own bill.
Rather, the change to the law would be inserted in a larger package
with a high likelihood of passage, such as a budget bill, defense
authorization or even a farm bill.
Once it does so, the law is changed.
At that point, all young people, not just men, would be required to
register with Selective Service in conformance with the new law. It
could start mid-year or perhaps New Year's 2017, by filling out forms
at local US Post Offices, and online.
Who would register would also have to
The law affects persons 18 to 26, and women born in 1990 and later
would have to register. Following some sort of initial registration
period for those already past 18 but not yet 26, women would register
on their 18th birthdays, the same as men.
Penalties for failure to register are
stay the same. It is a criminal act punishable by five years in Federal
prison and a $250,000 fine. Aside from a couple of test cases in the
1980s, no one has ever been convicted of breaking this law.
However, tens of thousands of men have
benefits denied, student grants and loans rejected, and turned down for
government jobs, for in many cases inadvertent failure to fill out the
form. Every year more and more state governments make registration
conditional to jobs and benefits, so it gets worse for these men.
Registration cannot be accepted past a person's 26th birthday and the
restriction on these men's rights becomes permanent and irrevocable on
Therefore, women age 25, especially those very close to their
should register at the first opportunity available, to avoid falling
into this trap. Access to current and future benefits and job
opportunities far outweighs the
unlikely threat of being forced to fight in a future war.
UPDATE May 12, 2016
The House Armed Services Committee has voted to
H.R.4478, which revises the Selective Service law to include
women, into H.R.4909, the 2017 Defense budget bill. This
committee 60-2 and will almost certainly be approved next month. By
doing this, no congressperson need vote directly
issue, or other potentially contentious topics in the bill, such as
funding the F-35 fighter
program overruns, the expansion of the aging A-10 Warthog program, and
such as Russian rocket motors (to put into missiles to point back at
H.R.4478 was a standalone bull introduced by Rep.
Hunter (R-CA), entitled the Draft America's Daughters Act. Despite the
title, stated by the author to draw attention to the "ridiculousness"
of female participation in the military, the bill's language is a
perfectly legal, straightforward gender neutralization of the current
law text. If Hunter's move was intended to stop the inclusion of women
in the draft, it seems to have backfired as this very language is
almost certainly going to become law. The budget bill also will have to be
Senate and signed by the President.
UPDATE June 14, 2016
The US Senate has approved their version of the
spending bill, which has the McCain amendment with essentially the same
language as the Hunter. This must now be reconciled with the House
version, which dropped the Hunter amendment before passage.
One key difference: in this version, registration would
only affect women born after 1999. That way the bill would be safely
passed before anyone affected by it became eligible to vote against its
UPDATE Oct 19, 2016
The issue is becoming a political football as seen in this
sarcastic anti-Hillary "campaign spot." The spot depicts Miley Cyrus
stating she will fight an unjust war for Hillary.
UPDATE Nov 19, 2016
Unable to compromise on the spending bill, Congress two
months ago passed a stopgap funding measure to keep the military
funded. With the unexpected change in direction at the Executive level
(Trump got elected), and with incoming Houses likely to vote against
women's participation in the military, it appears likely that draft
registration for women will be removed from the final form of the bill.
Only if the outgoing Senators and President act in the
lame duck session in late 2016 is the measure likely to pass, and
indications are from the inbound Administration that gender equity
provisions will be rolled back.
UPDATE Dec 9, 2016
Congress has approved a bill that excludes women. Instead,
funding is approved for the issue to be "studied." Assuming the
President signs it, Selective Service will remain men-only. President
Obama and the Defense Department have recently stated they support the
requirement for women to register with Selective Service. He could not
alter the bill before signing, but could take unilateral action in the
form of Executive Order any time before leaving office. The incoming
Administration and staff have not stated a position although they
appear to lean against it.
There are a couple of court cases addressing this
Federal-level discrimination. They would have been dismissed as moot
had the spending bill been passed as proposed, however they are both
back in play. If either case were to win, this issue, this last bastion
if discrimination - would finally be decided in favor of equality.
Female military draft scenarios
If the budget bill were to take effect in 2016
(unlikely), female draft
with those born in the years 1991 through 1998. In the unlikely event
of the draft starting this year, those born in 1996 would be taken
first. For the year 2017, add one year to these years of birth.
Note that, for reasons covered above, those aged
25 to 27
have the most to worry about. Failure to register will cause a lifetime
denial of benefits, permanent loss of eligibility for lucrative
government jobs, and now a loss of a myriad of many privileges in most
states. Late or retroactive registration is not possible and a slight
mistake of even a couple of days would cause a lifetime of problems for
those people. For those on the cusp, is recommended to attempt to
register even if you do not think you are eligible, by filling out the
form at a post office and turning it in. If you are indeed not eligible
you will receive a written response that could prove invaluable in the
On May 12 Sen John McCain (R-AZ) introduced into the US
version language with specifics. If passed female draft registration
would begin in 2018. Women with birth years 1992 to 2000 should keep
themselves informed of this legislation which can and will permanently
affect their rights and responsibilities. It would be interesting to
hear input from high profile people who would be affected. For
instance, singer Miley Cyrus (born Nov. 23, 1992) is in the crosshairs
of the military draft legislation. However, no one has aired their
opinion as of this date.
The role of drafted women in the military
A country drafts its women in the extremety of need.
For instance, Russia would have lost to Germany in World War 2, had it
not called everybody, including the women, to fight the invaders.
Israel, in 1949 would never had formed without its fighting women.
Although the women's draft is brought forth as a statement of social
equality, the fact is the US needs millions upon millions of personnel
even in peacetime and is having trouble getting them.
The United States has a worldwide military presence, with
actual troops on the ground in 800 bases in 70 different nations,
not to mention a Navy that can be found on every ocean and lake of any
size in the world. This results in a voracious demand for personnel.
Even though involved in a half dozen regional conflicts and wars, this
is considered peacetime, with the primary staffing-up occurring at the
special forces level.
In the event of a future war, women can expected to
be drawn involuntarily to augment an already strained personnel
pipeline. There will be cries to exempt women from combat, to leave
them in the safety of their homes. But, the fact of it is, a future war
could prove as dangerous to civilians as those in the past. Though the
combatants in past wars were almost all male, the casualties of war in
all countries but the US were about 50/50. Consider the women in the
two cities the US dropped atomic bombs on - had they drafted women they
would have been safely in the field and not dead in the blast at home.
If it comes down to a war - and unfortunately, the
odds are it will, sooner or later - wouldn't it be better for
women to be in a position to fight and defend themselves, instead of
becoming helpless victims as usual?