A Republican member of the House of Representatives proposed a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit the display of flags other than the American flag on U.S. embassies and consular posts, in opposition to the Biden administration's decision to fly flags representing Pride and Black Lives Matter at these diplomatic locations.
The Old Glory Only Act was proposed by Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina. The bill was created in response to the display of a rainbow flag at a South American embassy in 2018, which began during the Obama administration in 2014 and has been adopted by multiple embassies worldwide.
“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 display of a rainbow flag by the U.S. Embassy in the Holy See (Vatican City) during Pride Month in June 2022 was met with significant backlash.
“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,” wrote the embassy on Twitter.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has granted permission for all U.S. embassies and consulates overseas to fly Black Lives Matter flags on their official flagpoles. This decision was made in May 2021 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death on May 25th.
“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.
During the Trump Administration, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied requests from embassies to display flags other than the American flag. However, this policy was reversed under the Biden Administration in 2021, which now allows U.S. embassies and other locations abroad to fly the Pride flag.
The change in policy took place in advance of May 17th, which is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The State Department's statement emphasized that the U.S. efforts should support the repeal of laws criminalizing LGBTQI+ community while also ensuring that the principle of "do no harm" is upheld, in order to avoid backlash or further marginalization of the LGBTQI+ community.