Women and the Draft

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Dear Herald Editor:

Every man in the United States 18 to 25 years of age is required to register for the Selective Service, and thereby subject himself to the possibility of involuntary military service. Yet, on the eve of war with Iraq, the prosecution of which may require millions of U.S. military personnel, no woman in the U.S. is required to register. This clear fact of gender discrimination has not been focused upon in public discussions, I believe, because an active draft has not been in effect since 1973.

The United States Selective Service System offers on its Website a short history of the draft with respect to women. The primary reason given for non-registration of women is a twenty-year-old Supreme Court decision, Rostker v. Goldberg. Simply stated, this decision says that since all men registered with the Selective Service are considered combat replacements, and since Congress forbids women to go into combat, women should not be registered. Of course, this reasoning is absolutely absurd, since it presupposes that every man called for involuntary military service will be used for combat, and that no man called will be used for the approximately 90% of military jobs which are non-combat related.

Some questions arise as a result of this blatant fact of gender discrimination:

1. While U.S. women enjoy exactly the same civil rights as U.S. men, why is the pretext of a ridiculous Supreme Court decision used to exempt the majority of the population, i.e. females, from even the possibility of involuntary military service in any capacity?

2. Should women be permitted to vote in elections for candidates who may have to decide on war for our country, when women will never serve involuntarily in any military conflict?

3. Title IX demands that proportionately equal funds be used for school-based athletics for males and females. Many schools have had to abandon male team sports that earn revenue in excess of their costs and which aid in the preparation of males for the teamwork and organization of military service, in order to provide gender-equal funding for female sports which perennially lose revenue. Yet there is no requirement for females to utilize the skills and strengths learned on the athletic field in the military defense of their country. Should Title IX continue?

4. Do equal civil rights for women obligate women to equal civil responsibilities?

David W. Behrens, Citizen

10 High Point Terrace

Sussex, NJ 07461

Home Telephone: 973-875-9793