House Republicans are stuffing a veterans appropriations bill full of anti-LGBTQ+ measures

Shoulder of a soldier wearing a rainbow flag patch on his uniform
Photo: Shutterstock

Out Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) is sounding the alarm on how Republicans added a plethora of anti-LGBTQ+ measures during a markup of the Fiscal Year 2024 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill on Tuesday.

He said that his GOP colleagues adopted an amendment “to deny access to medically-necessary care to transgender veterans, prohibit pride flags from being flown at VA facilities, and even allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ people” as the bill was being discussed in the House Appropriations Committee this week.

“Most of the other provisions in this amendment have very little to do with a MilCon bill,” he said during the committee meeting, and are instead “about abortion and gender-affirming care, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and apparently the fear of some cloth, banning pride flags at our veterans’ facilities across the country.”

The Appropriations Committee’s website lists an adopted amendment to the bill from Rep. John Carter (R-TX) that “prohibits Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training and implementation, prohibits funding for hormone therapies or surgeries for gender-affirming care, protects Americans against religious discrimination; and allows only certain flags to be flown over VA facilities.”

“Religious discrimination” is often used as a euphemism for allowing health care providers to deny care to LGBTQ+ people, as well as to deny reproductive health care.

The amendment also “prevents federal funding for abortions except in cases of incest, rape, or life of the mother; blocks further implementation of the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Interim Final Rule on abortion.”

“We should ensure that we don’t use veterans for political purposes,” Carter said in his opening remarks for the markup. “They are far too important to our country to do that.”

It was adopted by a 34-27 vote in committee.

“There are one million gay and lesbian veterans and more than 130,000 transgender veterans. LGBTQ+ veterans have served our country with honor, but today, Republicans demonstrated they have no interest in honoring LGBTQ+ veterans’ service,” Pocan told the Washington Blade, adding that “Republicans are hell-bent on attacking the LGBTQ+ community.”

The bill still has steps to go through before becoming law, including passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Joe Biden’s signature. Biden has been supportive of LGBTQ+ people serving openly in the military, lifting the ban on transgender servicemembers at the beginning of his term in office.

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