Spending Package Includes Prohibition of Pride and Other Flags Above US Embassies, Biden Vows to Repeal

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The $1.2 trillion spending package that Congress approved in the early hours of Saturday includes a provision that effectively prevents LGBTQ Pride flags from being flown at U.S. embassies.

While the 1,012-page legislation does not explicitly state the prohibition of Pride flags at U.S. embassies, it does align with similar local efforts to ban non-governmental flags from public buildings. Such policies have been adopted in Huntington Beach, CA as well as in a Muslim-majority Detroit-area community. 

The bill’s text reads:

“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be obligated or expended to fly or display a flag over a facility of the United States Department of State” other than the U.S. flag, the POW/MIA flag, the Hostage and Wrongful Detainee flag, flag of a state, flag of an Indian Tribal government, official branded flag of a U.S. agency or the sovereign flag of other countries.


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A White House spokesperson said that President Joe Biden “believes it was inappropriate to abuse the process that was essential to keep the government open by including this policy targeting LGBTQI+ Americans.”

The spokesperson added that the Administration would be working with Congress in an effort to repeal the provision, saying:

The Administration fought against the inclusion of this policy and we will continue to work with members of Congress to find an opportunity to repeal it. We were successful in defeating 50+ other policy riders attacking the LGBTQI+ community that Congressional Republicans attempted to insert into the legislation.

The law does not prevent the display of non-governmental flags, such as pride flags, on other parts of the embassy grounds or within the interior offices; the prohibition is limited to which flags may be flown above the buildings. 

During President Barack Obama’s administration, some U.S. embassies started displaying the Pride banner. However, President Donald Trump implemented a ban on flying pride flags at US embassies, denying requests during June’s “Pride Month” starting in 2019. The Biden administration swiftly reversed this ban shortly after assuming office in 2021. 

In the same year, House Republicans proposed the “Old Glory Only Act,” which aimed to mandate the secretary of state to ensure that no United States diplomatic or consular post flies any flag other than the United States flag. This legislation did not pass. 

On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that while the administration had not been able to block the flag proposal, it defeated over fifty other policies that are alleged to be an affront to the rainbow community, writing:

We successfully defeated 50+ other policies attacking the LGBTQI+ community that Republicans attempted to insert in this legislation. POTUS is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ equality at home and abroad.

House Speaker Mike Johnson promoted the flag provision as a policy win for Republicans during the spending package negotiations that concluded Friday. 

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