The plaintiffs in Rostker had not challenged the ban on women in combat: The case had been initiated in 1971, when women were generally considered unfit for combat, or service as firefighters and police officers; the ERA, approved by Congress in 1972, would fall prey, in part, to concerns about a gender neutral draft and combat rules. Conventional wisdom held (as one general noted in his congressional testimony,) that "women should not be placed in a forward fighting position.
Tell that to police officer Kimberly Munley, recovering from gunshot wounds received when she confronted alleged Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan. Tell it to the women effectively engaged in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tell it to 53% of people who professed support for sending women into combat in a New York Times/CBS poll. Most of all, tell it to Congress, which has yet to repeal, or seriously considering repealing, the legal exclusion of women from combat. Sometimes the law is a sword for social change, and sometimes it shields the status quo. Sometimes it's a battering ram and sometimes it's the wall.
(Photo: The U.S. Army/Flickr)
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