Speaking with NBC News on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence did not back down when asked if he supported the State Department’s decision not to fly the rainbow Gay Pride flag on the flagpoles outside American embassies.
Pence stated, “I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flagpole of our American embassies that one flag should fly, and that’s the American flag. And I support that. … when it comes to the American flagpole at American embassies at capitals across the world, having the one American flag fly, I think, is the right decision.”
Last Friday, NBC News reported that three American diplomats said the Trump administration rejected requests from some American embassies overseas to fly the rainbow flag on the official U.S. flagpole during June, which is LGBTQ Pride Month. The embassies have been permitted to fly the LGBTQ flag inside embassies and on exterior walls.
Pence noted, “We put no restrictions on displaying any other flags or any other displays at our embassies beyond that.”
The Daily Mail reported that Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders attacked the decision at a Meet the Candidate event at the Pride Weekend celebration in Des Moines, Iowa, sniping, “We have seen the Trump administration try to roll back protections for transgender people, and the Trump Education Department rollback protections for transgender students. We have recently seen the Trump State Department actually try to limit embassies from flying the Pride Flag.”
There were others:
The Washington Post reported that several embassies have been trying to circumvent the decision by the Trump administration by showing rainbow flags publicly in other ways:
The facades of the U.S. missions in Seoul and Chennai, India, are partially hidden behind large rainbow flags, while the embassy in New Delhi in rainbow colored lights. The website for the embassy in Santiago, Chile shows a video of the chief diplomat raising a rainbow flag last month for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The Vienna Embassy’s website features a photo of a rainbow flag flying below Old Glory on a mast jutting from the building, a statement by Diplomats for Equality and a story about a professor lecturing on the visibility and growth of LGBT rights.
The Obama administration said embassies could fly the rainbow flag from poles outside the embassies but they had to be smaller and fly lower than the American flag. The Trump administration issued instructions that embassies needed approval from the State Department’s Office of Management to fly a rainbow flag.
According to the U.S. Code:
Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation.