Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee want to codify a recently enforced Pentagon ban on drag shows, which they made clear Wednesday when they adopted an amendment that would ban funding for such performances in their version of the bill. Defense Policy Annual.
The provision, introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) as the panel redacted its draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed 33-26.
“I think it’s time we do something to get our voice out that we won’t let this happen in the US military – woke ideology and drag queen shows have no place in our military, zero, bupkis. That’s not the way to recruit people,” Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.) said in support of the amendment.
This year, Republicans have criticized the Pentagon over drag shows, leading to a new ban on events on military bases and on board ships.
The ban was delayed in late May after months of intense Republican criticism, including during a congressional hearing in March in which both Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley expressed their disapproval of federal funding for drag show events at defense installations. .
But Democrats argued that efforts to restrict drag in the military are part of a broader movement to undermine the rights of LGBTQ+ people and that the House committee should focus on more pressing issues affecting service members. and their families.
“I represent the largest military community in the entire country and I can confidently say that not a single service member or military family has ever, even once, complained about drag shows,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs ( D-Calif.) whose district outside of San Diego is near or home to numerous Navy and Marine Corps bases. “They call me for housing. They call me for child care. They call me for food safety. They call me for many, many things. They don’t call me for drag shows.”
He added: “If we’re sitting here in Congress belittling and dehumanizing the trans community and mocking the art of drag, that’s not in line with our values, and our allies and adversaries are taking notice.”
Democrats also noted that drag performances on US bases had long held significance in US military culture without drawing public controversy, going back decades.
Rep. Donald Norcross (DN.J.) reminded colleagues that legendary comedian Bob Hope performed in drag for the troops, saying, “I don’t think this is the first time this has happened. You might want to google it.”
The committee also approved within a block of amendments a provision by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) that would suspend the Navy’s Digital Ambassador Program. The initiative caught partisan fire after the service tapped Navy sailor Joshua Kelley, who was also a TikTok drag queen known as Harpy Daniels, to help reach potential recruits on social media.
The Pentagon has said the pilot program was an outreach initiative, not a recruiting effort.
The amendment’s inclusion in the NDAA comes amid a record amount of legislation targeting drag performances and LGBTQ rights, with dozens of state bills introduced by Republican lawmakers seeking to crack down on the performances.
The most recent of these bills was signed into law Tuesday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The legislation bans “sexually oriented performances” that take place in the presence of minors and is scheduled to go into effect on September 1.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.