Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently drew attention to a Navy sailor talking about an LGBTQ event held on an aircraft carrier, using the video clip to question U.S. priorities as China “prepares for war.”
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Rubio shared a video of Navy Lt. j.g. Audrey Knutson telling a story about reading a poem she wrote at an “LGBTQ spoken word night” while deployed on the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.
Knutson described the Navy event as “the coolest thing I did on board” and “probably the culmination of the whole deployment.” In the tweet’s caption, Rubio wrote, “While China prepares for war this is what they have our @USNavy focused on.”
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Rubio and other lawmakers have been accusing the military of focusing too much on diversity and inclusion. In November, he and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) released a report called “Woke Warfighters” alleging that the U.S. military is being weakened “through a sustained assault fueled by woke virtue signaling.”
As U.S.-China relations have cratered to new lows in recent years, leaders have increasingly discussed the possibility of a new cold war – or actual military conflict – with China, particularly over the island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own while it maintains friendly ties with the U.S.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said the military’s 2024 budget request of $842 billion is being driven by “the seriousness of our strategic competition with” China.
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China recently announced a 7.2 percent increase to its military budget – the eighth consecutive annual increase – and currently has the largest standing army and navy in the world, according to The Associated Press.
The video Rubio posted was a clip of a longer story Knutson told on the Navy’s Instagram page.
In the full clip, Knutson described herself as “non-binary.” She said she is particularly proud of her service in the Navy because her grandfather, who served on a carrier during World War II, “was a gay man in the Navy, and he had a really difficult service.”
The Navy captioned the post: “No matter your background, lifestyle, gender, sexuality or religious beliefs, there is a place for you in the Navy.”