Kolkata, India: Pride flag will still remain prohibited in the US defense headquarters, pentagon periphery, the Department of Defense said, adding that it intends to “keep existing policies for the display of unauthorized flags,” according to a statement released Friday,
“This decision was not made lightly, nor does it in any way reflect on the respect and admiration we feel for all our LGBTQ+ personnel in and out of uniform,” the Pentagon press secretary said in a statement issued to United Press International (UPI).
“It stems, rather, from a concern about other challenges to the policy that an exception of this kind might engender and encourage.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, according to Kirby, plans to participate in Pride Month celebrations at the Pentagon next week and “encourages other commands to similarly find ways to celebrate the service and accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community in defense of this nation.”
A presidential contradiction?
The Department of Defense’s decision contradicts a campaign promise made by President Joe Biden last summer, as well as a decision made by Secretary of State Atony Blinken this spring.
The Pentagon’s ban on the display of unofficial flags derives from a memo sent last July that featured a list of flags that the Defense Department had approved for display because they “encourage solidarity and esprit de corps.”
The United States flag, flags of states or territories, Senate-confirmed civilian flags, and flags of allied nations are among the authorized flags, albeit the Confederate battle flag is not among them.
Several parts of the US military had already outlawed the display of the flag and other Confederate symbols at military locations by the time then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper released the memo.
After Esper’s memo was released last summer, Joe Biden, then a candidate for President of the United States, commented on Twitter, “Banning the Confederate flag from military installations was long overdue.”
“Banning the LGBTQ Pride flag – the very symbol of diversity and inclusion – is undeniably wrong. The Pentagon should ensure it is authorized, or as President, I will.”
The State Department authorized all U.S. diplomatic posts across the world to fly the flag on the same pole as the American flag at embassies and consulates in April.
Kirby told reporters at a press conference on Friday that the prior policy had not been formally reviewed, but that “knowing that the month of June was approaching, we wanted to do due diligence and take a look at the old policy and see if we felt it was still applicable.”