The Biden administration has shown to have a proven woke agenda on gender issues, going so far as to threaten those who don't adhere to accepting certain lifestyles. This has even expanded to the military, where veterans can be stripped of hard-earned benefits if they don't adhere to a code of conduct. Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) has made it clear that he is putting the administration on notice when it comes to such "immoral and potentially illegal" actions, though. Steube is himself a veteran, as are many of the other signatories who signed onto a Friday letter to Secretary of Veteran Affairs Denis McDonough provided to Townhall.
Rep. Steube's letter to Secretary McDonough calls the secretary out for a November 9, 2021 letter from McDonough, on department letterhead, that threatens to withhold access to services, as well as threaten to hold them "accountable for their actions" if they engage in behavior, which among other things, amounts to "disruptive" behavior. The term "disruptive" is not defined, however.
"While the legal basis for such threats is unclear, the motivation is not: it is political theatre at the expense of our nation’s veterans," Rep. Steube's letter charges.
"Our veterans have earned the benefits that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is tasked with providing them. Making such benefits conditional upon adherence to anti-science, liberal dogma is immoral and potentially illegal," the letter also charges. "Accordingly, you are threatening to rob veterans of their hard-earned benefits based on a subjective standard with only woke buzzwords as guidance. Veterans deserve better."
Townhall was also provided with the VA letter in question, addressed "Dear Veteran," which emphasizes that veterans are "a diverse group" and that "VA is committed to ensuring our community is safe, welcoming and a place that is free of harassment for all Veterans, their caregivers, volunteers, visitors, and employees."
"We thank you for honoring all those you encounter in any VA facility by treating them with dignity and respect, regardless of race; color; religion; sex; gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; age; physical or mental disability; or language," the VA letter goes on to read, with added emphasis.
"VA has a zero-tolerance policy for harassing, disruptive, abusive, or violent behavior. Harassment and sexual assault, including sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, is inappropriate conduct and will not be tolerated. Reports of inappropriate conduct are taken seriously," the letter warns. "VA will investigate and take action, if warranted, to hold the person engaging in such conduct accountable for their actions. lf the offender is a Veteran, such conduct may result in the Veteran being restricted as to the manner and location at which they can receive treatment." Emphasis is added.
Rep. Steube's letter asks for the following to be clarified within 30 days:
1. You list “gender identity or expression” as a potential basis for discrimination. Under what legal definition of discrimination have you made this determination?
2. Please list every reported incident where discrimination based upon “gender identity or expression” occurred at a VA facility.
3. You list “disruptive” behavior as a category of prohibited conduct. This is a vague and subjective standard that is rife for abuse. What is the definition of “disruptive” behavior that the VA uses in such cases?
4. Your letter threatens to restrict “the manner and location” of treatment for veterans you deem to be offensive. Please clarify how the VA will determine what restrictions to apply and how exactly they would implement that directive.
5. Finally, please detail the procedural rights afforded to a veteran accused of the prohibited conduct referenced in your November 9 letter.
In addition to Rep. Steube, the other signatories include Reps. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Ken Buck (R-CO), Lisa McClain (R-MI), Mary Miller (R-IL), John Moolenaar (R-MI), and Andy Harris (R-MD).