News (USA)

GOP lawmaker wants to defund the US military because the Air Force is hosting Pride events

Military contingent in San Diego LGBT Pride Parade, July 15, 2017
Military contingent in San Diego LGBT Pride Parade, July 15, 2017Photo: Shutterstock

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) wants to defund the entire U.S. military because an Air Force base is hosting a few Pride events in June.

On Thursday, Roy noted that a flyer at the Robins Air Force Base in Houston County, Georgia advertised several Pride Month events, including a game night, a fun run, and a panel on LGBTQ+ history. He also shared a May 3 Air Force memo encouraging commanders to “plan and conduct appropriate activities in honor of Pride Month.”

“What’s next, rainbow uniforms during Pride Month?” Roy said, according to Fox News. “The Air Force and Defense Department sanctions this ridiculous use of taxpayer dollars and then expects members of Congress who represent Americans who are livid about this stuff to green light an $800 billion-plus DOD [Department of Defense] budget. If DOD doesn’t put a stop to these kinds of divisive – and frankly embarrassing – DOD events, Republicans should pull support for this year’s [National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)].”

The NDAA is an annual spending bill to fund the U.S. military. It usually passes with large bipartisan support. The 2023 NDAA allotted over $857 billion to the military. While it’s unlikely that Roy will find enough Republican congressmembers to help him block future funding, his comments are part of a longer Republican-led war against LGBTQ+ inclusion in the military.

Republicans have held hearings opposing the DOD’s diversity programs, its embrace of transgender servicemembers, as well as the hosting of drag shows and LGBTQ+ events on military installations, The Hill reported. Recently, Republicans raged over a drag queen social media influencer who was part of the Navy “Digital Ambassadors” program to encourage new recruits from different cultural backgrounds.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and other Republicans have introduced legislation to ban drag shows performances on military bases, something that has been happening since at least World War II. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a House Armed Services hearing in March that the DOD doesn’t directly fund drag shows.

Nevertheless, the Air Force seems dedicated to embracing its LGBTQ+ troops. Its May 3 memo said, “During [Pride month], we celebrate the progress we have made towards inclusivity, commemorate the contributions of LGBTQ+ Americans, and recognize the obstacles they have faced and overcome along the way. This is a time to reaffirm our commitment to equality and reinforce the importance of a cohesive and diverse Total Force. One Team; One Fight.” 

Roy is a member of Congress’s far-right Freedom Caucus which includes rabidly anti-LGBTQ+ Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). In March, Roy and other caucus members refused to join a resolution denouncing white nationalism and white supremacy.

In 2022, Roy opposed efforts to pass The Respect for Marriage Act, a law that protects same-sex marriage rights. He accused Democrats of using the law to distract from inflation, illegal immigration, and crime.

In 2019, Roy commented on a state child custody battle involving a transgender seven-year-old, their supportive mother, and their non-supportive father. Roy wrote via Twitter, “A 7-year-old shouldn’t be subjected to barbaric medical procedures because of an irresponsible adult.”

“Many 7-year-olds think they can fly, they believe a fairy comes into their rooms at night to trade money for a lost tooth, and they often eat dirt,” Roy wrote in a statement about the case. “It is unthinkable that parents and medical professionals would act on the whims of a minor child to take life-changing, irreversible steps to alter his or her identity.”

Despite Roy’s claims, children are well aware of their own gender identities at a young age. Medical professionals only offer gender-affirming care if a child “persistently, consistently, and insistently” affirms their trans identity, and that care usually consists of allowing the child to explore their gender presentation until puberty, at which point they can pursue optional, safe, and reversible puberty blockers to prevent the permanent effects of puberty from taking place. Such blockers have been used for decades on children with rare cancers without harmful, long-term side effects, trans healthcare experts have told LGBTQ Nation.

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