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House minority leader blasts Republican rep’s letter supporting Tuberville delays

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House minority leader blasts Republican rep’s letter supporting Tuberville delays

Sep 18, 2023 | 1:03 pm ET
By Sam Stockard
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House minority leader blasts Republican rep’s letter supporting Tuberville delays
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House Minority Leader Karen Camper of Memphis, photographed on Aug. 21, 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)

House Minority Leader Karen Camper is criticizing state Rep. John Ragan’s letter backing delays in key military appointments until the Pentagon relents on abortion policy.

Camper, a Memphis Democrat and mayoral candidate, issued a statement Monday saying she is “shocked by the level of vitriol and carelessness for the men and women in uniform expressed” in the letter by Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican.

Ragan’s letter to U.S. Sens. Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn, both Republicans, urges them to support U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville in blocking appointments to top military leadership posts and also asks them to “remove wokeness” from the military.

Camper, a retired intelligence officer from the U.S. Army, contends it is “outrageous” for Ragan, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, to “insert his personal beliefs” into Pentagon policies.

I am shocked by the level of vitriol and carelessness for the men and women in uniform expressed in this letter. As a woman, as a veteran, and as a member of this General Assembly for many years, I have seen harmful and dangerous political posturing, but this is beyond the pale.

– Karen Camper, Tennessee House Miniority Leader

Ragan’s letter, sent on Sept. 11, backs elimination of military funding for travel and expenses for military members to obtain abortions and uses the Tennessee Constitution as support, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs to let states decide abortion care. The General Assembly outlawed abortion services, making only a narrow exception this year to deal with the health of the mother in dangerous pregnancies.

Ragan argues in his letter that military members “resent” their tax dollars going toward elective abortions “in violation of their personal religious beliefs” and anecdotally calls the Pentagon’s “arrogant directive” another form of a “worthless woke-ism.”

In addition, he claims service members perceive the military policy as part of “woke” ultimatums, such as on-base “drag queen” shows and story hours, accommodations for “transexuals,” despite religious objections, saying they are among the “onerous demands that waste resources, cripple morale and hurt readiness.”

Camper, however, points out that Tuberville, a former football coach who has no military experience, is jeopardizing the nation’s security and military preparedness by refusing to allow nearly 300 positions to be filled, including the Marine Corps commandant position.

“Our military is at an all-time low level for recruitment. Our young people are not choosing the military as a career. It has nothing to do with ‘wokeness,’” she said in her statement.