- New guidance stops the armed forces displaying Confederate flags – but it also bans LGBT+ rainbow flags.
The US Department of Defense has used a memo banning the military from displaying Confederate flags to also ban the LGBT+ Pride Flag.
It comes around a year after the Trump administration banned its embassies from displaying LGBT+ rainbow flags.
But new guidance from Defense Secretary Mark Esper restricts what flags can go on display at military installations. From now on, only the US flag, state flags, military flags and flags of allies are allowed.
The public aim is to stop military bases displaying the Confederate flag with its racist, pro-slavery heritage.
However now the Washington Blade has confirmed with the Pentagon that the guidance also prohibits the flying of the Pride Flag.
Naturally, that has angered LGBT+ people serving in the military – as has conflating rainbow flags to the Confederate flag.
‘Alarming message to LGBTQ service members’
Will Goodwin is a gay Army veteran and government affairs director for the anti-Trump group VoteVets. He said:
‘It is patently offensive that Mark Esper has, along with the Confederate flag, declared the Pride flag to be “divisive”.
‘To equate it with a symbol that represented a denial of human rights is disgusting and a slap in the face of those members of the community who serve, or seek to serve, in uniform.’
Moreover Jennifer Dane, interim executive director for the Modern Military Association of America, said if Esler wouldn’t change the policy to allow LGBT+ flags, Congress should take action. She added:
‘In what universe is it OK to turn an opportunity to ban a racist symbol like the Confederate flag into an opportunity to ban the symbol of diversity? This decision sends an alarming message to LGBTQ service members, their families and future recruits.’
Moreover, there are even opponents of the new policy within the Department of Defense. Rudy Coots is president of the internal DOD Pride group for LGBT+ staff. He said:
‘Banning the Rainbow Pride Flag will have the opposite effect of the policy’s intended purpose of improving morale, cohesion and readiness.
‘For LGBT soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and civilians protecting our nation each and every day, and their allies, the flag is a joyous symbol of hope, acceptance and accomplishment that should continue to be displayed proudly.’
Embassies show the way to rebel over Pride Flag ban
The Washington Blade raised the possibility that the ban could impact LGBT+ Pride Month activities within the US armed forces. Indeed, Dane said it was important to ensure ‘LGBTQ Pride Month observances are not threatened’.
However, it may be possible for supportive military officers and staff to work around the ban.
In particular, the ban appears to include ‘public spaces’. Therefore troops may be able to get away with displaying LGBT+ symbols in their own rooms in barracks.
Moreover, US embassies showed the way to get around Trump’s ban on them flying the flag last year. They mounted ‘a category one insurrection’ by lighting their buildings in rainbow colors.
Indeed, in the case of the Tel Aviv US Embassy Branch Office they didn’t even attempt a diplomatic work-around. Instead, they just blatantly defied the ban – which specifically applied to them.