House Democrats Want LGBTQ Provisions Removed in Defense Authorization Bill

During Pride month last June, Maj. Tyler McBride and Capt. Justin Lennon display a Pride flag at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Over 150 House Democrats have voiced their opposition against certain provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) they say undermine LGBTQ rights.

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In a letter dispatched last Thursday to the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, they claim these measures could adversely impact the “recruitment, retention, and readiness of our Armed Forces.”

The NDAA, which narrowly secured approval from the House in July, contains at least four measures introduced by conservatives.

Specifically, the bill would bar the Department of Defense from showcasing LGBTQ Pride flags, financing drag events, transgender health care, and certain educational materials.

The letter, spearheaded by Congressional Equality Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and co-signed by Reps. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), leaders of the Transgender Equality Taskforce, stated:

“These sections of the NDAA seem more aimed at political posturing than genuinely supporting our troops.”

A provision in the NDAA would restrict military personnel and civilian Department of Defense staff from displaying any flag other than those officially sanctioned in departmental spaces.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), who proposed the amendment, clarified it intended to limit the display of the LGBTQ Pride flag.

Another provision would prevent government funding for events like drag shows, echoing bans on drag performances in several GOP-led states this year.

Additionally, an amendment by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) would restrict the Department of Defense Education Activity from acquiring or retaining books that promote “radical gender ideology.”

Furthermore, the NDAA seeks to prevent TRICARE, the military’s healthcare program, from covering gender-affirming healthcare expenses. Another similar provision would deny the Exceptional Family Member Program from funding gender-affirming services for dependent children.

The Senate, under Democratic control, passed its version of the NDAA without these disputed provisions in July. The next step involves House and Senate leaders collaborating to finalize the bill, which requires approval from both chambers before reaching President Biden’s desk.


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