Women Sue for Right to Be Drafted in the U.S.

     NEWARK, N.J. (CN) – A New Jersey teenage girl has brought a federal class action against the Selective Service System, claiming its refusal to consider women for the draft is discriminatory.
     “With both males and females available for such roles today, the two sexes are now similarly situated for draft registration purposes and there is no legitimate reason for the government to discriminate against the female class, so equal protection applies,” the complaint states. “Further, with both males and females available for such combat roles, there is no reasonable basis for infringing the associational interests of the female class by preventing them from registering.”
     Noting that she will turn 18 this year, E.K.L., as she is named in the complaint, says she attempted to register for the draft on the website of the Selective Service by filling out the online form.
     Once she clicked “female” during the online registration process, however, the website prevented her from registering.
     E.K.L. filed the complaint on July 3 through her mother, Allison Kyle, claiming that the Military Selective Service Act (MSSM) violates the civil rights of young women but contravene current policies that both the Pentagon and Congress hold for integrating women into combat roles.
     E.K.L. and her mother call it undisputed that the Military Selective Service Act creates a sex-based difference.
     Banning women from the pool of potential recruits is not rational given the role females currently play within the military, according to the complaint.
     “If the two sexes can fight and die together, they can register together; if not, then no one should have to register,” the complaint states.
     Starting with the deployment of female troops to Grenada in 1983 as part of Operation Urgent Fury, the roles for females within the military have continued to evolve including being allowed to engage in combat positions with the Navy in 1993 and to serve in combat zones in the Persian Gulf with the U.S. Coast Guard by 2003, E.K.L. and her mother say.
     “By 2009, more women had fought and died in the Iraq war than any since World War II,” the complaint states.
     When the Pentagon officially rescinded the remainder of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule in 2013, females finally received “the opportunity to engage in combat in a manner that is equal to those for men, other than a few exceptions that must be approved by the Secretary of Defense.”
     Since that time, units that are involved in forward operations opened 53,000 positions to women. And, an additional 184,000 positions for special operations commandos and infantry solders were also added after the final ban on women was removed, the complaint states.
     “As former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at his January 24, 2013 press conference: A hundred and fifty-two women in uniform have died serving this nation in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the complaint states. “Female service members have faced the reality of combat, proven their willingness to fight and, yes, to die to defend their fellow Americans. . . . . In life, as we all know, there are no guarantees of success. Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier. But everyone is entitled to a chance. . . . . As secretary, when I’ve gone to Bethesda to visit wounded warriors, and when I’ve gone to Arlington to bury our dead, there is no distinction that’s made between the sacrifices of men and women in uniform. They serve, they’re wounded, and they die right next to each other. The time has come to recognize that reality.”
     E.K.L. hopes to represent a class of women between the ages of 18 to 25.
     Her complaint names the Director of Selective Services Lawrence Romo as a defendant.She is represented by Michael Daher in West Harrison, N.Y.

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