May 19, 2005

Next Stop, 1950

This is what we get for letting the ERA fall by the wayside. The gender equality movement could be facing another hurdle in the House of Representatives soon. The Armed Services Committee today approved a bill that would prevent women from participating directly in combat in all four branches of the military. Pentagon policy already dictates that women cannot participate in direct combat, but the armed services have been known to make exceptions in emergency situations. Women are currently serving in support teams for infantry, armor, artillery, ammunition, maintenance and other units. Under the new law, women would be formally barred from these positions. Now I'm no expert, but I would think at a time when the military is facing serious difficulties meeting recruitment quotas the government would want to open up the armed services rather than place more restrictions on them. Unless we're facing a draft soon (which is dubious), it really doesn't make any sense to pass this restriction on military eligibility at this juncture. Furthermore, shouldn't it be up to women whether or not they participate in direct combat? It's unconstitutional and frankly, to borrow a term from the neo-McCarthyists in the Republican party, un-American to deny a woman a job based solely on her gender. Why can a woman be a surgeon, police officer, and fire fighter but not a soldier on the front lines?

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