The topic of requiring draft registration for women came up in last night’s Republican Presidential debate. The question really took me by surprise, but I guess the issue has been in the news the past few months now that all combat roles in the U.S. military have been opened to women.
I am against involuntary servitude, and this includes both the military draft and other forms of mandatory “national service“. For men in Generation X, selective service registration has been a fact of life, having been authorized in 1980 by Proclamation of President Jimmy Carter. Since then, upon turning 18, all men have had to register for the draft. Beyond that, we have to keep proving that we have registered, providing our selective service number in order to get Federally backed student loans and other financial aid, get a government job, or obtain other federal benefits. Additionally, failing to register could result in a $25000 fine and up to 5 years in jail. Some states have their own legislation linking selective service registration for men to financial aid and even to being able to obtain a drivers license.
Of course, these penalties only apply to men. Could this have anything to do with men falling behind in college enrollments? Probably not. But is it fair, especially in light of opening opportunities in the military to women? Would it demonstrate more of a commitment to equality to require women to share in this responsibility to register for the draft and face the same potential penalties as men? At least Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush said “yes” last night. I would like to hear what Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders say on this issue. (If they were asked in their debate I missed it). Of course, I would have rather heard them say that we no longer need to register anyone for the draft.