Tuesday, 14 June 2016
Senate approves "Defense" bill including expansion of draft registration to women
[Poster by Yolanda V. Fundora]
Today the U.S. Senate voted 85-13 to approve a version of the proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (S. 2943) including a provision which, if also approved by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the President, would extend draft registration to women. (Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer were the only Senators absent from this vote. So far as I have been able to find, Sen. Sanders has made no public comment on this issue.)
As had happened in the House of Representatives, the Senate voted to approve the bill as a whole, without a separate vote on on whether to make changes to Selective Service registration. The version approved by the Senate would expand registration to women, while the version approved by the House would not.
The provision on women and Selective Service in the Senate bill is slightly different from the provision considered but rejected at the last minute by the House of Representatives last month. The House bill would have left the cut-off age and date and the start-up schedule for registration of women up to the President to determine by proclamation, the same way draft registration was ended by proclamation by President Ford in 1975 and resumed by President Carter in 1980.
Section 591 of S. 2943 as adopted by the Senate would subject women born on or after the start of the millennium, 1 January 2000, to whatever requirement for registration with the Selective Service System applies to women, beginng 1 January 2018 when the first such women turn 18. Women born in this millennium would have the same choices as men with respect to draft registration, and like men would be required to notify Selective Service every time they change their address until their 26th birthday (although few men do so, and the law is unenforced and unenforceable).
The Senate bill is somewhat ambiguously worded, but it appears intended to subject women born after the start of the millennium to the same administrative sanctions as men with respect to Federal jobs, student aid, etc., if they haven't yet registered, or later in life if they don't register before their 26th birthday.
A bill can become law only if it is approved in exactly the same form by both houses of Congress and then signed by the President. There are billions of dollars in differences between the versions of the "defense" authorization act approved by the two houses, in addition to the provision in the Senate bill to register women for the draft and the absence of any such provision in the House version. So the House and Senate will each appoint members to a joint ad hoc conference committee whose sole task will be to negotiate -- behind closed doors -- a compromise version of the bill that they think will be able to get the approval of a majority of both chambers. It's unclear what is likely to become of the provision on women and draft registration in the conference committee, whose work could take several weeks or longer.
The bill proposed by the conference committee is then voted up or down in each chamber as a package deal. A bill can die in conference if majorities of the the House and Senate can't agree on a package of compromises, but that isn't likely with a bill like this that almost all members of Congress consider essential. However, President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if some of the provisions in the Senate version remain in version approved by Congress. Should that happen, Congress would have to either override the President's veto or try again to craft a bill acceptable to the President, in which case there would be another chance for amendments to provisions such as those on women and draft registration.
All this could drag on for months, although it would need to be resolved before the session of Congress ends at the end of the year, after the elections. If Congress votes this year to extend draft registration to women starting 1 January 2018, that will still leave the possibility that, before that provision takes effect, the new Congress that takes office in January 2017 could supersede it by ending draft registration entirely. In the meantime, 16-year-old women (those born in 2000) will need to start thinking about what they will do if they are ordered to register for the draft when they reach 18, and whether they will publicize their resistance. (Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help, or if you have "I Won"t Go" or "We Won't Go" statements I can publish or link to.)
If the provision approved today by the Senate is removed from the final version of the "defense" authorization act enacted into law, the issue will be postponed for the new Congress to deal with next year or whenever Federal courts begin to rule, as they are likely to do in lawsuits that are already in progress, that male-only draft registration has been rendered unconstitutional by the opening of all military combat assignments and specialties to women. Once that happens, Congress will have to decide whether to end draft registration, extend it to women, or allow it to end by court order (somewhat messily and with some awkward loose ends and follow-up litigation).
A recent poll (see page 131 of the PDF) shows that liberals and Democrats are generally more supportive of extending draft registration to women than conservatives or Republicans. Most of the opposition to requiring women to register for the draft comes from (sexist) conservative Republicans, not anti-war or libertarian feminists. Among Democrats, supporters of Bernie Sanders were even more likely than supporters of Hillary Clinton to support extending draft registration to women.
There's been a longstanding split between liberal advocates for gender equality and radical feminists who have opposed war and the draft as sexist, even when only men have been drafted. When men fight, women die. (For similar arguments about LGBTQ "equality" and inclusion in the military, see the Against Equality Web site and their anthology Against Equality: Don't Ask to Fight Their Wars, also included as a section in their larger collection, Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion.)
When President Carter announced his proposal to reinstate draft registration in his State of the Union address in 1980, some of the strongest initial grassroots opposition came from women. One feminist group adopted the following statement in January 1980:
The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom strenuously opposes the conscription of men or women for war or preparation for war and we oppose registration as the first step toward conscription.... Sisterhood is international -- it does not stop at international borders. If we embrace militarism and conscription as part of equality we will be declaring our sisters as enemies. That is something we as women and as feminists WILL NEVER do.... Sisterhood is powerful. Sat NO to registration; say NO to the draft!
The National Resistance Committee was founded at a meeting at the Women's Building in San Francisco within weeks after Carter's announcement. Many women remained active in the resistance to draft registration even after the bill approved by Congress was narrowed to require only men to register, though the press tended to focus on male draft resisters. A report on the anti-draft movement by the New York Times in August 1982 noted that, "Some feminist organizations are attracted to the issue. After many women's groups opposed President Carter's unsuccessful proposal for registration of women, they have tended to line up against the peacetime draft of men, too." (The same article reported presciently that, "Some antidraft activists ... say ... that if thousands fail to respond, the Government will not be able to track them down. 'For every one of those who openly say, 'I'm not going to register,' there are probably 50 to 100 who are doing it privately,' said Fred Moore of the National Resistance Committee in San Francisco.")
As illustrated in the poster above by Yolanda V. Fundora, the draft was one of the major issues raised by 2,000+ participants in the Women's Pentagon Actions in November 1980 and November 1981, well after draft registration had been limited to men. According to their Unity Statement:
We are in the hands of men whose power and wealth have separated them from the reality of daily life and from the imagination. We are right to be afraid. At the same time our cities are in ruins, bankrupt; they suffer the devastation of war. Hospitals are closed, our schools are deprived of books and teachers. Our young Black and Latino youth are without decent work. They will be forced, drafted to become the cannon fodder for the very power that oppresses them... We do not want to be drafted into the army. We do not want our young brothers to be drafted. We want them equal with us.
Women have been among those health care workers most concerned about Selective Service preparations for for a draft of doctors, nurses, and many other medical professionals, which would include women but could be based on professional licensing lists rather than on self-registration of potential draftees.
Women share many of men's reason not to register for a military draft, and have other reasons of their own. Today, people of all ages and genders question why the U.S. is supporting the fundamentalist (and supremely sexist) monarchy in Saudi Arabia, or its dictatorial allies in Yemen, among others.
Despite this history, feminist, radical, anti-war, and libertarian opposition to registration and the draft doesn't (yet) register in current polls. That has made it easy to "spin" the proposed extension of draft registration to women as allegedly "feminist" and as part of Hillary Clinton's alleged "radical feminist agenda". It's up to us to change these terms of debate to consider the feminist, radical, anti-war, and libertarian arguments against subjecting anyone to draft registration or a draft, and the inevitability that any attempt to force women to register for the draft will prove just as unenforceble as registration of men has been.
Tell Congress to end draft registration for men, not extend it to women. And until Congress listens, resist draft registration and support the young men who are already resisting and the young women who are preparing to do so.
Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 14 June 2016, 18:54 ( 6:54 PM)
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"Women in the Draft: The Obama Legacy Grows" (by Steven Bucci, Daily Signal, 15 June 2016):
"Conservatives Have a Plan to Block Women in the Draft" (by Philip Wegmann, Daily Signal, 15 June 2016):
"Opponents of the draft measure will have an opportunity to kill it when the House and Senate reconcile the differences between their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act in conference....
The time of the conference and the exact number of conferees from the House and Senate has not been determined. But Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who is guaranteed a seat at the negotiation table as the senior member of the Armed Services Committee, already announced he plans to strip out the controversial measure. Inhofe promised in a statement to try to remove, in conference, 'the unnecessary Senate language requiring women to register for the draft.'
That’s only possible because the House already stripped a proposed draft requirement from its version of the bill back in May. That makes conference, a GOP aide tells The Daily Signal, the best time to address the issue."
"When President Jimmy Carter reveleved his proposal to register women and men for the draft,... organizations took positions varying from WILPF's total opposition to registration to Phyllis Schlafly's opposition to drafting women. The National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus changed their posiitons from January 25 to February 8  from total opposition to the draft to opposition coupled with the idea that if there were to be a draft, it had to include women. The debate was on between feminists who believed in equality within male power structures and feminists who beleived in changing male structures of power, in this case, in opposing war and militarization altogether."
(Women Leaders in the Peace/Antiwar Movements, by Carolyn M. Stephenson, Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution, University of Hawai'i, in "Gender and Women's Leadership: A Reference Handbook", SAGE Publications, 2010)
There is no such thing as equality on this earth and there never will be. Cats are not dogs and men are not women. When men can birth a baby from a womb, then the sound of equality among men and women might not sound so utterly ridiculous. Wages, nor voting (in a rigged system btw) does not equal to equality. And 'working in a kitchen' is of no less worth or value than the hunter's catch. The elites have truly succeeded in the dumbing down of the many. Neither man nor woman or any being should be coerced into the madness of the greedy warmongers who fool you into believing their lies. Make peace (creative), not war (destructive) - and you will be thankful when in your life review you chose the path of light.
"Senate Votes for Equal Slavery for Women: A female veteran's case against the Selective Service" (by Jessica Pavoni, Foundation for Economic Education, 14 June 2016):
"Many are applauding these changes as an important step towards 'equality' and recognition of women's capabilities. But the focus on equality is masking the underlying injustice of the law in the first place...."
"Don’t Draft Women -- Or Men" (by Jack Perry, 23 June 2016):
"Abolish the draft as a whole. Then, THEN, we will have true equality when it is no longer possible for the federal government to force anyone's kid to go die for foolish overseas power gambits between various tinhorn despots we call 'allies'....
Now the government says, gosh, we might not have enough males to fight and win a war we start in the future. We might need all the females, too. Therefore, they must be foreseeing a war in the future with casualties in the millions....
See, people think we can just draft the young and ship them off to die for these mistakes we call 'foreign policy'. But the blood is on your hands and on your heads if you think sending young men just isn’t enough, so let’s send young women, too...
No, we need to call for an end to this insanity. When the government has said that just sending off the males to death isn’t going to be enough, but now they need the females, too, we should realize we're led by monsters....
End the whole draft registration scam. War itself is the enemy. Militarism itself is the enemy. These are concepts that must be defeated for a future to even be possible."
"Women and the military draft: Selective Service's fate hinges on the decision" (by Leo Shane III, Military Times, 25 June 2016):
"Women could begin registering for the draft as early as 2018, or the entire Selective Service System could be abolished by then. Both options hang over upcoming negotiations connected to the annual defense authorization bill, since House and Senate drafts of the policy measure contain dramatically different plans on whether women should be required to sign up for possible involuntary military service...."
"Feminists weigh in on draft registration for women" (by Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, National Catholic Reporter, 28 June 2016):
"Recent legislative efforts to extend draft registration to young women have raised an old conundrum for some feminists. Does pursuit of gender equality include support for universal conscription?
While not all feminists are anti-militarists, opposition to war and militarism has been a strong current within the women's movement. Prominent suffragists like Quaker Alice Paul, and Barbara Deming, a feminist activist and thinker of the 1960s and '70s, were ardent pacifists. Moreover, feminist critique has often regarded the military as a hierarchical, male-dominated institution promoting destructive forms of power...."
"Should Women Register for the Draft?" (by Nicholas Clairmont, The Atlantic, 7 July 2016):
"Enemies of the draft expansion [of draft registration to women] see themselves as defending an old and noble chivalric idea about the male duty to protect..."
(Completely ignores pacifist and antiwar feminist opposition to draft registration, and the role that women have played in opposition to conscription, even when only men were being drafted ro required to register.)
"LCMS convention action seeks to protect women’s consciences" (by By Tony Oliphant, Luthern Church-Missouri Synod, 12 July 2016):
"The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in convention voted on Tuesday to provide protection for the consciences of women objecting to conscription for military service...."
"Lutherans Armor Up to Defend Women" (by By
Korey Maas, Wall Street Journal, 21 July 2016):
"Last week in Milwaukee the church's triennial convention passed a resolution, by a 946-89 vote, committing to support 'those who have a religious and moral objection to women participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft.'..."
2016 Republican Party platform:
"We oppose the reinstatement of the draft, except in dire circumstances like world war, whether directly or through compulsory national service. We support the all-volunteer force and oppose unnecessary policy changes, including compulsory
national service and Selective Service registration of women for a possible future draft."
"GOP, Dems dig in for defense fight" (by Kristina Wong and Rebecca Kheel, TheHill.com, 14 August 2016):
"Democrats and Republicans in Congress are digging in for a fight on defense spending that is unlikely to be resolved until after the election....
Little is likely to happen until after November.
Democrats, confident voters will deliver Hillary Clinton to the White House and a Senate majority for their party, expect they'll have more leverage if they wait.
'I think there's a small chance (but still a chance) that an NDAA conference report could be done in September and get vetoed by the President, but I think the final [NDAA] and defense appropriations [bill] will all get finalized after the election,' said Justin Johnson, defense budget expert at The Heritage Foundation."
Joint letter to the conference committee chairs and ranking minority members in support of
extending the current Selective Service registration requirement to women,
co-signed by, among others, the ACLU and the Natijonla Organization for Women:
"The undersigned organizations urge you to retain the Senate language Section 591) requiring women to register for the draft."
People who are members of any of the signatory organizations might want to let them know what you think of their position on this issue.
funny how the draft is only wrong when women are considered for inclusion.
"Congress drops plans to make women register for the draft" (by Leo Shane III, Military Times, 29 November 2016):
"Lawmakers have officially dropped plans to make women register for the draft, instead opting for a review of the ongoing need for the Selective Service System.
The controversial provision had been part of early drafts of the annual defense authorization bill...
But conservatives in both chambers objected to the provision and stripped it out of the final legislative draft unveiled Tuesday....
Instead, the final authorization bill draft -- expected to be voted on by Congress in the next few days -- calls for a review of the entire Selective Service System, to see if the idea of a military draft is still realistic and cost-effective."
"Congress drops plans to make women register for draft" (By Rebecca Kheel, The Hill, 29 November 2016):
"Congress has abandoned plans to require women to register for the draft in an annual defense policy bill.
Instead, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would require a review of the draft registration system.
Senior House and Senate Armed Services committee staffers revealed the change Tuesday while briefing reporters on the final version of the NDAA after months of negotiations between the two chambers."
"Congress kills plan forcing women to register for the military draft" (by Paul Szoldra, BusinessInsider.com, 30 November 2016):
"Dropping women from draft registration may be a signal that the next Defense Secretary could reinstitute the policy excluding women from some direct combat jobs, such as infantry and artillery. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the policy change in 2013, but since Congress never passed a law affirming it, a stroke of the pen could roll it back."
"White House Announces Support for Requiring Women to Register for Military Draft" (by Jordyn Phelps, ABC News, 1 December 2016):
"The Obama administration announced on Thursday its support for requiring women to register for the military draft.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that while the administration remains committed to an all-volunteer force, .. "the administration supports -- as a logical next step -- women registering for the Selective Service."...
The Pentagon echoed the administration announcement, affirming that the Secretary of Defense sees the universal draft as the next step in establishing equality across the military.
"While Secretary [of Defense] Carter strongly supports our all-volunteer approach and does not advocate returning to a draft, as he has said in the past, he thinks it makes sense for women to register for selective service just as men must," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.