On Wednesday, 18 Republicans sided with 213 Democrats to thwart an amendment aimed at withdrawing funding from Pride month events endorsed by the state department.
“None of the funds made available by this Act for the Department of State or the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute may be used to carry out the observance of Pride Month as specified in the Cultural Observances and Awareness Events List of the Department of Defense and authorized by the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness,” the amendment articulated, stemming from the efforts of Republican Congressman Chip Roy.
The scrutiny surrounding financial appropriations for such events is not a novel discourse. President Joe Biden’s Department of State had allocated more than $20,000 for drag shows in Ecuador in 2022, while Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada had on its agenda an all-ages drag show slated for June 2023. This, however, met a last-minute cancellation by the Pentagon, deeming it “not a suitable use” of funds.
The move followed despite prior reassurances by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in March, asserting drag shows were “not something that the Department of Defense supports or funds.”
The Republican representatives who opposed the amendment were Ken Buck, Ken Calvert, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, John Curtis, Anthony D’Esposito, John Duarte, Brian Fitzpatrick, Andrew Garbarino, Tony Gonzales, David Joyce, Thomas Kean, Kevin Kiley, Nicholas LaLota, Mike Lawler, Nancy Mace, Marcus Molinaro, Jay Obernolte and Michelle Steel. Concerns were voiced that the amendment was overly expansive, potentially infringing on personal freedoms.
“I don’t support using taxpayer dollars for drag shows. I voted against that in the NDAA earlier this year and will work to keep that prohibition in policy,” Rep. Molinaro explained to the Daily Caller. “My position hasn’t changed and my only issue with this amendment was it was too broad and could be used to infringe on individual rights.”
Representative D’Esposito mirrored this sentiment stating, “The amendment in question was too wide in scope, did not specifically mention ‘drag shows’ which I previously voted to defund on military installations as part of the NDAA, and unnecessarily singled out LGBT military service members during a period of time where we should be focusing on priorities like ending the ongoing border security crisis and funding our government.”
Some Republicans believed the vote resonated with fostering a climate of acceptance towards LGBTQ members within the armed forces. Rep. LoLata opined, “I am part of the Republican Party who wants to end wokeness, stop drag queen story hours in our schools and military, but at the same time acknowledge and accept gay people — some of whom are my family, friends, and who served alongside me in the military with honor and integrity.”
Reagan McCarthy, Communications Director for Rep. Fitzpatrick, highlighted the essence of the amendment, noting, “Many LGBT Americans patriotically serve in our military, just like other groups of Americans,” McCarthy said. “This amendment solely dealt with whether or not the DOD could observe Pride Month in the same manner as the DOD recognizes the contributions of various groups through other observances, like Women’s History Month, Black History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and National Hispanic Heritage Month.”
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