Just over three years ago the Pentagon opened all combat roles to women, and on Sunday a federal judge went one step further, ruling that excluding women from the military draft is now unconstitutional.
“While historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination, men and women are now ‘similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft,’” Southern District Federal Court Judge Gray Miller wrote in the ruling. “If there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed.”
The Military Selective Service Act requires men aged 18 to 25 to register with the Selective Service, though the United States hasn’t implemented a draft since the Vietnam War. According to the New York Times, Miller’s ruling was “declaratory, and it did not specify any action that the government must take to comply.”
Discrimination and outdated ideas of femininity have excluded people of all genders from most combat roles for decades, but it’s worth noting that this lawsuit didn’t originate from a desire to expand opportunities for women. Rather, the case was brought forward by National Coalition for Men, a litigious men’s rights group that in 2018 filed a complaint with the Department of Education against the University of Pennsylvania for creating women’s only spaces. Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project director at the Southern Poverty Law Center last year told the Daily Beast that the organization’s objective is “not about equality for men,” but “about reducing civil rights protections for women.” It’s also worth noting that the National Coalition for Men lawsuit does not express concern that trans people are still banned from the military.
The military has a rampant sexual abuse problem: According to CNN, an estimated one in four women are assaulted by a superior in their chain of command. While the military does have a moral and social obligation to include women, to truly achieve equality, the military needs to open its doors to people of all genders—not just women—and eradicate a culture of misogyny and harassment. Anyone expected to serve in the military should expect that the military gives a shit about protecting their rights, too.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the National Coalition for Men has sued the University of Pennsylvania and comedian Iliza Schlesinger. Schlesinger was sued by George St. George, represented by the National Coalition for Men’s former secretary Alfred Rava, who in 2015 said he has filed 150 sex discrimination lawsuits in California.