In a surprise display of a politician departing from his party’s line, a Democratic mayor in Reading, Pennsylvania has refused to raise the LGBT rainbow pride flag over city hall, arguing that it sends a non-impartial political message.
“The flag was originally slated to fly on Monday in recognition of Reading’s Pride Celebration and stay up through the following Sunday,” reports LifeSiteNews. “However, the Reading Eagle reports that Mayor Wally Scott blocked it just minutes before it was set to go up. He objected not to the LGBT lobby’s causes, but to the prospect of flying anything representing a live political cause.”
In a statement to reporters, acting managing director Osmer Deming said that Mayor Scott simply does not wish to use government property to endorse current political movements. “The mayor’s position is that he does not support flags being up that support political movements and he views that as a political movement,” he said.
City council president Jeffrey Waltman said that he tried to change the mayor’s mind but ultimately could not persuade him from “concerns about raising the flag.” Councilwoman Donna Reed said that all plans were in place to have the flag fly until Mayor Scott shut it down at the last minute. “I contacted the managing director and was told this flag would fly through the 21st,” Reed said.
“It was obviously an administrative breakdown that showed up at the last minute. It was approved by Osmer and I guess it didn’t get relayed,” Waltman added.
LGBT activists have not accepted the news enthusiastically. One city resident, Ernie Schlegel, said he plans to file a complaint to see “if we have a stand for discrimination.”
Mayor Scott’s decision to not let the flag fly over city hall comes shortly after the Trump administration told U.S. embassies around the world to abstain from displaying the rainbow flag alongside the American flag.
“The U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia are among those that have requested permission from Trump’s State Department to fly the pride flag on their flagpoles and have been denied, diplomats said,” reported NBC News back in June. “Although the pride flag can and is being flown elsewhere on embassy grounds, including inside embassies and on exterior walls, the decision not to allow it on the official flagpole stands in contrast to President Donald Trump’s claim to be a leader in supporting LGBTQ rights overseas.”
In actuality, the Trump administration only barred the pride flag from being physically placed on flagpoles alongside the U.S. flag. Openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told NBC News in a statement that the rainbow flag would be present in the U.S.’s Berlin embassy, and that it was present throughout all of Pride Month.
“The President’s recognition of Pride Month and his tweet encouraging our decriminalization campaign gives me even more pride to once again march in the Berlin Pride parade, hang a huge banner on the side of the embassy recognizing our pride, host multiple events at the Embassy and the residence, and fly the gay pride flag,” Grenell said.
In 2018, the GOP even introduced a bill in the U.S. House seeking to bar the rainbow flag from being displayed in concert with the American flag on U.S. embassies. Contrary to initial reports, the bill did not single out LGBT flags and simply banned any flag other than Old Glory.
“The United States flag is the single greatest symbol of freedom the world has ever known, and there’s no reason for anything but Old Glory to be flying over our embassies and posts around the globe,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said at the time.