The longstanding debate over the role of women in the military took a major turn last week, when an amendment passed that would require women to register for the draft.
The House Armed Services Committee voted 32–30 in favor of the bill, which will go before the full house next month. While there hasn't been a draft in the U.S. since the Vietnam War, men are still required to register with the Selective Service Systems upon turning 18.
Under the new amendment, women aged 18–26 would be required to register as well. While some people continue to oppose the idea of women in combat, others are hailing the proposed amendment as a massive step forward toward gender equality.
"If we want equality in this country, if we want women to be treated precisely like men are treated and that they should not be discriminated against, then we should support a universal conscription," Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, told The Hill.
In February, after a previous House Armed Services Committee hearing on women in combat, Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, told Reuters that America is “about treating people as individuals and having a meritocratic approach. … The debate is over. Women are in combat. Women have been in combat.” McSally is a retired Air Force colonel and the first-ever woman to fly in combat.
The irony of the bill's passing is that the senator who proposed it did so with the intention of it being rejected.
"I've talked to coffeehouse liberals in San Francisco and conservative families who pray three times a day," Rep. Duncan Hunter told the committee. "And neither of those groups want their daughter to be drafted."
Hunter repeatedly invoked images of violence to help persuade the committee to vote against his proposal. "A draft is there to put bodies on the front lines to take the hill," Hunter said. "The draft is there to get more people to rip the enemies' throats out and kill them."
Meanwhile, McSally pointed out that not all draftees go to the front lines, while Speier directly called Hunter out for his underhanded tactics.
"While you may be offering this as a gotcha amendment," Speier said, "I would suggest that there's great merit and recognizing that each of us have an obligation to be willing to serve our country in a time war."
Write your loved one overseas on J.Crew's Connor "Write Again" Stationary Collection, and let us know if you think women should be required to register for the draft.