Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has been blocking the Senate approval of over 300 military promotions, leaving the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps without confirmed leaders for the first time in 164 years. Though he has been blocking them to protest the military’s pro-abortion policies, he also recently said the military is too “woke” because someone once read a poem about a homosexual sailor.
“Secretary [Carlos] Del Toro of Navy, he needs to get to building ships, get to recruiting, and he needs to get wokeness out of our Navy,” Tuberville said on Fox News on Wednesday. “We’ve got people doing poems on aircraft carriers over the loudspeaker. It is absolutely insane the direction we’re headed in our military, and we’re headed downhill, not uphill.”
His blistering response comes as House Republicans are holding up military funding to take health care access away from servicemembers.
His comment refers to an LGBTQ spoken-word poem that was recently read aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford a Navy aircraft carrier. Back in April, right-wingers complained after a nonbinary officer, Lt. Audrey Knutson, read a poem in which they said that they were proud to join the Navy and serve on the aircraft carrier because of their gay grandfather who had a “difficult service” during World War II.
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When questioned about the poem by Tuberville last April, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday stood up for Knutson.
“I’ll tell you why I’m particularly proud of this sailor,” Adm. Gilday responded. “Her grandfather served during World War II, and he was gay, and he was ostracized in the very institution that she not only joined and is proud to be a part of, but she volunteered to deploy on Ford. And she’ll likely deploy again next month when Ford goes back to sea.”
“Sir, we ask people from all over the country, from all walks of life, from all different backgrounds to join us, and then it’s the job of a commanding officer to build a cohesive warfighting team,” he continued. “That little trust that a commanding officer develops across that unit has to be grounded on dignity and respect.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) noted that naval poetry readings are a longstanding military tradition which date back to before 1926. Meanwhile, military heads have recently taken the unprecedented step of directly criticizing Tuberville for his blockage.
“This is having a real negative impact and will continue to have an impact on our combat readiness,” Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro recently told CNN. “That is what the American people truly need to understand.”
“It is just unprecedented to be attacking apolitical general officers and flag officers in this way. It is taking our apolitical military … and eroding its foundations,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told the aforementioned news network.
Editor’s Note: This article originally misidentified Ted Lieu as gay