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Top US Navy admiral defends ‘non-binary’ sailor who praised LGBTQ event on USS Gerald R. Ford

Admiral Gilday as Chief of Naval Operations, Aug. 12, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
April 19, 2023

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday defended a “non-binary” officer who recently appeared in a Navy Instagram video praising an “LGBTQ spoken word night” held on the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. The video was criticized by GOP lawmakers, including Marco Rubio (R-FL), who slammed the U.S. Navy’s priorities as China “prepares for war.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) questioned the top admiral about the video during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

“I hope we train our officers to prioritize their sailors, not themselves,” Tuberville said. “Did it surprise you that a junior officer says the highlight of her deployment, her first and the ship’s first, was about herself and her own achievement?”

“I’ll tell you why I’m particularly proud of this sailor,” Gilday responded. “So, her grandfather served during World War II, and he was gay and he was ostracized in the very institution that she not only joined and is proud to be a part of, but she volunteered to deploy on Ford and she’ll likely deploy again next month when Ford goes back to sea.”

“We ask people from all over the country, from all walks of life, from all different backgrounds to join us and then it’s the job of a commanding officer to build a cohesive warfighting team that’s going to follow the law, and the law requires that we be able to conduct prompt, sustained operations at sea,” he continued. “That level of trust that a commanding officer develops across that unit has to be able to be grounded on dignity and respect, and so if that officer can lawfully join the United States Navy, is willing to serve and willing to take the same oath that you and I took to put their life on the line, then I’m proud to serve beside them.”

Tuberville said he agreed that it doesn’t matter “who you are, as long as you join our military to fight for the freedom of our country and protect our country.”

“The problem that I’m having is the obsession with race, gender, sex is focused on self, it’s not focused on team,” Tuberville continued. “And if we don’t start building team, we have no chance to win individually in this country. We have no chance. Everybody else is building.”

Tuberville highlighted the U.S. military’s recruitment struggles, adding, “We don’t need to have a Bud Light moment.”

“We don’t need to have a Bud Light moment in the Navy,” he reiterated, apparently referencing the ongoing boycott against Anheuser-Busch sparked by the company’s partnership with a transgender influencer.

“We have to build a killing and fighting machine. It concerns me that we do all these things and we focus on one thing, one person. We’re all Americans. That’s what we are. And I hope as admirals and generals and secretaries that we start pushing Americans first, not a gender, not a race, not nationality. We all gotta (sic) come together,” Tuberville continued. “If we don’t, we have zero chance, because this is not the country we used to have. This is not the military we used to have. And we gotta (sic) get out of that rut of saying, ‘We are individuals.’ We’re not individuals. We are the best country on the face of the earth. And the best military. The United States of America.”