New government spending bill bans U.S. embassies from flying Pride flag

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Tucked in the massive government funding package signed Saturday by President Biden is a provision banning the flying of LGBTQ Pride flags over U.S. embassies. But even on the same day Mr. Biden signed the package, the White House vowed to work toward repealing the provision.

The prohibition was one of many side issues included in the mammoth $1.2 trillion package to fund the government through September, which passed early Saturday shortly after a midnight deadline.

As Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, a conservative Christian, scrambled for votes to get the bill passed in his chamber, he allegedly touted the Pride flag ban as a reason his party should support the bill, the Daily Beast reported.

The White House said Saturday it would seek to find a way to repeal the ban on flying the rainbow flag, which celebrates the movement for LGBTQ equality.

“Biden believes it was inappropriate to abuse the process that was essential to keep the government open by including this policy targeting LGBTQI+ Americans,” a White House statement said, adding that the president “is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ equality at home and abroad.”

The White House said that while it had not been able to block the flag proposal, it was “successful in defeating 50+ other policy riders attacking the LGBTQI+ community that Congressional Republicans attempted to insert into the legislation.”

Pride flag U.S. embassy
An American flag and a Pride flag are pictured on the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Russia, on June 30, 2022. 

NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images


The law signed by Mr. Biden says that no U.S. funding can be used to “fly or display a flag over a facility of the United States Department of State” other than U.S. or other government-related flags, or flags supporting prisoners of war, missing-in-action soldiers, hostages and wrongfully imprisoned Americans.

But while such flags may not be flown “over” U.S. embassies, it does not speak to displaying them elsewhere on embassy grounds or inside offices, the Biden camp has argued.

“It will have no impact on the ability of members of the LGBTQI+ community to serve openly in our embassies or to celebrate Pride,” the White House said, referencing the month, usually in June, when LGBTQ parades and other events are held.

The Biden administration has strongly embraced LGBTQ rights. In a sharp change from the Trump administration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has not only allowed but encouraged U.S. missions to fly the rainbow flag during Pride month.

Blinken’s predecessor Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, ordered that only the U.S. flag fly from embassy flagpoles.

In 2015, former President Barack Obama’s administration lit up the White House in rainbow colors — delighting liberals and infuriating some conservatives — as it celebrated the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the United States.

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