News (USA)

Republicans poison military funding bill with anti-LGBTQ+ amendments

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

In a largely party-line vote, House Republicans have voted for numerous anti-LGBTQ+ provisions in the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an $895 billion military funding bill. A similar attempt in 2024 largely failed due to opposition in the Democrat-majority Senate.

In a vote of 217-199 — with six Democrats supporting and three Republicans opposing — the House approved amendments to ban the Department of Defense (DOD) from providing gender-affirming care to transgender servicemembers and to dismantle diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices and positions — including the DOD’s chief diversity officer — The Hill reported.

One provision also seeks to end all drag performances on military bases. Out Rep. Robert Garcia (R-CA) protested this provision in an impassioned speech on Thursday.

“There are a lot of threats to the health and well-being of our service members: poison water on military bases, toxic mold in military housing, PTSD, and suicide. So I see that a top Republican idea to protect our troops is actually to ban drag shows,” Garcia said.

“We can document and celebrate drag shows on military bases, and they’ve been celebrated since the 1800s and through both World Wars,” he continued. “The USO and Red Cross hosted drag shows during World War II. The army that defeated and saved the world included drag queens. [Former President] Ron Reagan starred a movie called This Is The Army, a movie about World War II that featured four drag performances.”

During a debate over an additional amendment that would end a Biden administration policy of reimbursing service members’ travel costs when they get an abortion, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) said “Once again, this majority has chosen not to treat matters of national security with the seriousness with which they deserve to be treated, and they are choosing to use that National Defense Authorization Act to shove their extremist culture war agenda down the throats of the American people.”

While the House version of the NDAA is likely to face opposition in the Democrat-led Senate, the Senate Armed Services Committee is still working on its version of the NDAA. The committee isn’t expected to released its version until July.

Republicans introduced similar provisions in the 2024 NDAA, but most of them got stripped out of the final version in order to win the Democrat support it needed to become law. The single anti-LGBTQ+ provision remaining in the 2023 bill prevented Pride flags from being flown over U.S. embassies in foreign countries, something that embassies can creatively work around.

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