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Mike Pence confirms, defends administration’s LGBT ‘pride’ flag policy
Mike Pence confirmed that the Trump administration denied requests from U.S. embassies to fly LGBT Pride flags on official flag poles during Pride Month.
The devoutly Christian vice president told NBC Monday that the Trump administration made the “right decision” to allow only the American flag to fly on official flag poles. Pence was asked whether this decision contradicted President Donald Trump’s stated support of LGBT rights around the world.
“I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flag pole of our American embassies that one flag should fly, and that’s the American flag, and I support that,” Pence said.
Pence defends decision
President Trump marked the beginning of Pride Month in June with tweets touting LGBT rights, as he doubled up on his support of an initiative to fight the criminalization of homosexuality in countries around the world. But Trump met immediate blowback from LGBT advocates, who pointed to Trump’s transgender military ban and other measures as evidence that his actions didn’t match his rhetoric.
Last week, it was reported that four U.S. embassies were ordered to not fly the rainbow LGBT flag to commemorate Pride Month, including the ones in Israel, Germany, Latvia, and Belgium.
Asked by NBC whether the decision conflicted with Trump’s declared support of LGBT rights, Pence said that he and Trump were “proud to be able to serve every American,” adding that the Trump administration made the “right decision” to fly only the American flag. Pence elaborated that no other restrictions were ordered on the rainbow flag.
“We both feel that way very passionately, but when it comes to the American flagpole and American embassies and capitals around the world, having the one American flag fly is the right decision,” he said. “We put no restrictions on displaying any other flags or any other displays at our embassies beyond that.”
The State Department takes orders from the White House on which flags to fly. Some embassies reportedly displayed the LGBT flag in other ways than on top of official flagpoles, with some displaying the flags on the building facades instead. Spokesperson for State Secretary Mike Pompeo, Morgan Ortagus, elaborated on the State Department’s decision Monday.
“Pride Month that we’re in right now is celebrated around the world by many State Department employees, by many embassies,” Ortagus said in a press briefing. “The secretary has the position that, as it relates to the flagpole, that only the American flag should be flown there.”
Watch Pence below:
Reversal from Obama years
It certainly looks like Trump is struggling with some mixed messaging. While touting LGBT rights in word, Trump also courts a devoted evangelical base that upholds traditional marriage.
The no-fly order is a reversal from the Obama administration, which granted permission in 2016 for individual ambassadors to decide whether to fly the flags at their respective embassies. The reversal marked the latest instance of what liberal critics consider Trump’s shallow support of LGBT rights.
Earlier this month, Trump hailed Pride Month and called on the world to support him in rolling back laws criminalizing homosexuality around the globe. Trump launched the initiative, led by Trump’s openly gay ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell, earlier this year.
The president tweeted, “As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
Vice President Pence has been stereotyped by liberals as a virulent homophobe on account of his Christian beliefs. Notably, he was attacked in April by gay Episcopalian mayor Pete Buttigieg, who supports late-term abortion. Buttigieg called Pence a blasphemer and a hypocrite who had a problem with God on account of his stance on Buttigieg’s sexuality.
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