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GOP bill would ban Pride, BLM flags at embassies; only U.S. flag allowed

A rainbow flag waves at the starting line of a Pride Observance Month 5K run at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, June 21, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal)
January 12, 2023

The American flag would be the only flag allowed to fly over U.S. embassies and consulates around the world under a new proposed law, nixing the “Pride” and “Black Lives Matter” flags that President Joe Biden has permitted to be flown.

The bill, called the Old Glory Only Act, is one sentence long. It says: “The Secretary of State shall ensure that no United States diplomatic or consular post flies any flag other than the United States flag over such post.”

It was introduced along with nine other bills by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), who has now introduced the bill in four consecutive sessions of Congress. He said it was first introduced after a South American embassy flew a pride flag in 2018.

“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.”

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Three months after taking office, the Biden administration gave “blanket written authorization” for Pride flags to be flown during the LGBT Pride season in June, ABC News reported. That undid a Trump administration ban on the flags, which itself had canceled blanket permission given by the Obama administration.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s memo authorizing Pride flags added that “as a matter of policy, the United States does not advocate for or against same-sex marriage abroad.”

The Biden administration also allowed Black Lives Matter flags to be flown over U.S. diplomatic posts to commemorate the first anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, ABC News reported. Diplomatic posts were advised in a memo to plan events around the theme of facing racial injustice “as appropriate and depending on local context.”

In Brazil, a Black Lives Matter flag was flown over the U.S. embassy for Black History Month, according to a press release.