Women may soon be forced to register for the draft, depending on the outcome of a federal law suit from the National Coalition for Men.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the military services to open all combat roles to women on Thursday. This order will come into play at the beginning of April 2016. (RELATED: Defense Sec Commands Military To Open All Combat Jobs To Women)
The suit, originally filed in 2013, has now received new life because of Carter’s decision. But according to Carter, the suit won’t change any of the Pentagon’s plans regarding gender integration, Stars and Stripes reports. The next hearing is set for Tuesday.
“That legal determination won’t affect … our timetable for the implementation,” Carter said Thursday. “But it is an issue that’s out there.”
The current draft system only applies to men. All males have to register with Selective Service 30 days after their 18th birthday. Registration applies until their 26th birthday.
Failing to sign up has serious consequences, namely a $250,000 fine, a prison sentence and loss of government benefits.
Back in October, at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting, Army Secretary John McHugh said that if Defense Secretary Ash Carter allows women to access all combat roles in the military, the debate about the draft will become inevitable.
McHugh added that considering women for Selective Service makes a certain amount of sense, given dedication to equality.
“If your objective is true and pure equality, then you have to look at all aspects and at some point Selective Service will have to be one of those things considered very carefully,” McHugh said at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting in Washington.
Judy Patterson, chief executive officer of the Service Women’s Action Network, said that requiring women to sign up for Selective Service is a welcome step forward.
“The draft is another gender-biased policy rooted in another era. We welcome an open debate around the inclusion of women and even whether the law itself is an anachronism whose time has come,” she said Friday, according to Stars and Stripes. “I have yet to speak with any woman who is personally opposed to registering.”