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A House Republican introduced legislation on Wednesday that would ban flags other than the American flag from being flown over U.S. embassies and other consular posts, pushing back on the Biden administration’s actions to fly Pride flags and Black Lives Matter flags over such diplomatic locations.
The Old Glory Only Act was introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC). According to his office, the bill “was originally introduced in response to a State Department official putting a rainbow flag up over a South American embassy in 2018.” The push to fly a pride flag started under the Obama administration in 2014 and has since spread to the embassies of numerous countries.
“Our beautiful flag, Old Glory, should be the only flag flying and representing our country over our diplomatic and consular posts worldwide,” Duncan said in a statement. “The American flag is a beacon of liberty, and no other flag or symbol better portrays our shared values than the Stars and Stripes. It is important to ensure that Old Glory only is flown at American embassies to represent our ideals abroad.”
The U.S. Embassy in the Holy See (Vatican City) sparked strong criticism in June 2022 when it displayed a rainbow flag to promote Pride Month.
“Today is the start of #Pride Month. The United States respects and promotes the equality and human dignity of all people including the LGBTQIA+ community,” the embassy’s Twitter account posted.
Today is the start of #Pride Month. The United States respects and promotes the equality and human dignity of all people including the LGBTQIA+ community. #PrideMonth #AllInclusive #Pride2022 pic.twitter.com/6VgN9R8c3J
— U.S. in Holy See (@USinHolySee) June 1, 2022
Others were quick to note that the Biden administration’s move to fly a rainbow flag in the heart of the Catholic Church would not occur in many Muslim nations where same-sex relationships are legally prohibited.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has authorized all U.S. embassies and consulates overseas to fly BLM flags on their official flagpoles. In May 2021, the State Department approved the use of BLM flags at embassies to mark the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death on May 25.
“We raise this banner in honor of George Floyd, murdered one year ago today, in solidarity with people around the globe seeking a world without racial discrimination and a future with equal opportunity for all,” the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, posted at the time.
We raise this banner in honor of George Floyd, murdered one year ago today, in solidarity with people around the globe seeking a world without racial discrimination and a future with equal opportunity for all. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/cVIkfH5Yra
— U.S. Embassy Athens (@USEmbassyAthens) May 25, 2021
Under former President Donald Trump, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected requests from embassies to display non-American flags. The decision was reversed under the Biden administration in 2021, allowing embassies and other U.S. locations on foreign soil the authorization to fly the Pride flag.
The reversal occurred ahead of May 17 to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
“Posts should support efforts to repeal [criminalization] legislation, while ensuring that ‘do no harm’ remains our overarching principle so U.S. efforts do not inadvertently result in backlash or further marginalization of the LGBTQI+ community,” the State Department’s statement read.
In May 2021, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) proposed a similar bill to ban flags other than the American flag. The bill did not pass in the then-Democrat-controlled House.
“It is inappropriate for President Biden and Secretary Blinken to authorize and encourage the display of inherently political flags that are in no way affiliated with the U.S. Government over American embassies overseas,” the congresswoman wrote at the time.