Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) has directed a letter to Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley questioning why taxpayer dollars have been used to fund drag shows on military installations.
In the letter, Rep. Gaetz cites a hearing that took place on March 29, 2023. During the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the “FY24 Defense Budget Request,” the Florida lawmaker questioned Austin over the DoD’s implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. While affirming that the programs should cease operation for being “divisive in nature,” Gaetz is now requesting further information over “specific cases of drag queen story hours and drag shows occurring on U.S. military bases.”
The GOP official went on to cite several dates where drag events allegedly took place. Along with the events cited, Gaetz posed several questions regarding the event.
For example, on June 17th, 2022 at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, the “99th Base Wing hosted a drag show at the Nellis Club on post featuring multiple drag performers.” Gaetz mentioned that “Colonel Josh DeMotts was the commander during this time,” and he posed the following questions for Secretary Austin and Chairman Milley to provide answers to.
- Under what authority does a commander approve, host, and fund burlesque drag shows on a military base utilizing taxpayer funding?
- What line item in the DoD budget is allocated for drag events or events of that nature?
- Will you both commit to reclaiming the exact dollar amounts commanders utilized for drag shows, drag queen story hours, and similar events?
The full text of the letter can be read here.
The letter comes after the NAACP issued a travel advisory to Florida, citing that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and the GOP are creating a "hostile" environment for marginalized groups. Republicans have pushed back against the advisory.