Florida’s senior Republican senator, Marco Rubio recently tweeted a short video by Lt. j.g. Audrey Knutson of the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Knutson, who identifies as nonbinary, spoke glowingly about their opportunity to read a poem at an LGBTQ spoken word night while stationed on an aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. Knutson talked about their Gay grandfather serving in the Navy in World War II and how powerful and honored they feel to serve in the Navy as nonbinary.
For most Americans, this would be an inspiring story of service to one’s country. But instead, it worries Rubio. He tweeted, “While China prepares for war this is what they have our @USNavy focused on.” Rubio tried to suggest that gay, trans, or nonbinary service members are simply not tough enough to fight America’s wars, especially against a rising power like China.
It’s not every day you see a senator denigrating a member of the U.S. military, and it’s far from clear how an LGBTQ spoken word night undermines America’s ability to “prepare for war.”
In reality, building camaraderie and acceptance in the military is essential to enhancing unit cohesion, especially when enlistment numbers in the military are in steep decline. Welcoming all Americans — no matter their backgrounds or sexual orientations — seems more important than ever in such a scenario.