The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a record-breaking military budget of $886 billion for the coming fiscal year. The National Defense Authorization Act was passed by lawmakers on July 14 by a slim margin of 219 to 210, with the majority of Democrats opposing it. However, the bill is unlikely to be approved in the Senate, as Republicans have introduced amendments that would restrict Pentagon funding to access abortions and prohibit gender-affirming medical care and hormone therapy for transgender personnel.

Support for anti-military transgender warrior Chelsea Manning at Pride, Jersey City, New Jersey, Aug. 27, 2016. (WW Photo)

In addition, the display of LGBTQIA2S+ Pride flags at military bases was banned. Rep. Greg Stanton from Arizona has pointed out that nearly 50% of women in the military do not have access to abortion care, largely due to state bans, making it difficult for them to obtain this necessary medical treatment. Furthermore, House Republicans dismissed a proposal from Democratic Reps Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee to decrease the military budget by $100 billion.

It is crucial for the anti-imperialist left to avoid falling for the trap set by the Democratic and Republican parties. The Democratic Party’s strategy seems to be to convince the left to advocate for the passing of the largest military budget in history under the guise that provisions will be added to it that would provide funds for abortion-related costs, like travel, and gender-affirming healthcare.

As a movement, we must be laser-focused on our demands to cut military spending until the military-industrial complex is fully dismantled, while simultaneously fighting for the guarantee of abortion access and gender-affirming healthcare for all people in the U.S. By doing so, we’ll be working toward our goal of achieving accessibility to healthcare services as a basic human right, regardless of employment status. The U.S. military cannot be a bargaining chip to access basic human rights.

Access to safe, free abortions, hormone therapy and gender-affirming healthcare should be a critical aspect of healthcare for all people in the U.S. We must demand the U.S. government recognize this as a basic human right that should not be restricted to military service or other factors. It’s essential that reproductive health and rights be treated as an intrinsic part of comprehensive healthcare.

Denying a pregnant person the right to access an abortion based on their occupation or other considerations infringes on autonomy and rights. The left must militantly demand that all women and gender-oppressed people have access to safe, free, and quality health and reproductive services, including hormone therapy and abortion.

No Pride in the U.S. military!

It’s crucial to protect the right of LGBTQIA2S+ individuals to fly a Pride flag at military bases as a means of increasing visibility and representation. This is an important step toward creating a more inclusive and accepting environment for our community. 

However, it’s essential to recognize this right in relation to a more substantial strategy by part of the ruling class. This strategy aims to further integrate LGBTQIA2S+ people into capitalist and imperialist systems and institutions, including the military. Although acknowledging the realpolitik nature of the situation can be hard, we must recognize that imperialism still seeks any and all soldiers it can get, including LGBTQIA2S+ soldiers. 

It’s important to continue to fight for increased visibility and representation for the LGBTQIA2S+ community, while also keeping in mind the larger picture and being vigilant about the intentions of those in power.

The role of LGBTQIA2S+ people in the military establishment requires critical analysis. Their role, in essence, is to weaken and demobilize queer movements against war and imperialism and ultimately welcome and incorporate queer people into the machine for making profit and war that is the U.S. military. Whenever we see patriotic “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” propaganda targeting the LGBTQIA2S+ community, we must view it as saying, “You too can now be part of this white supremacist, settler-colonial project!” 

Flying a Pride flag on military bases and other U.S. institutions is a subtle tactic to suggest that we queer people should see ourselves as part of this empire, instead of working to dismantle it.

Joining the U.S. military as an LGBTQIA2S+ person equates to support for U.S. imperialism and capitalism. Rather than seeking access to the spoils of the U.S. empire, queer people in the military should seek class solidarity with other queer communities in capitalist countries, who are similarly oppressed and marginalized. 

Such international solidarity, especially with the nations and peoples in the crosshairs of the U.S. military, can raise class consciousness and bring awareness of how to win true liberation for oppressed genders and LGBTQIA2S+ people: the complete dismantling of imperialism and capitalism.

Richie Merino

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Richie Merino

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