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Biden Agrees to Ban LGBTQ Pride Flags at US Embassies

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden agreed to ban US embassies from flying the LGBTQ pride flag as part of a $1.2 trillion spending deal to keep most US government agencies open through Sept. 30.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson has been promoting the flag prohibition, which was tucked into the funding agreement, as a victory for Republicans as he tries to rally support for the measure within his party.

The White House’s budget office in a statement endorsed the overall deal Thursday and urged swift passage. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the flag provision.

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Many US embassies have flown the rainbow-themed Pride flag during the month of June, celebrated as LGBTQ Pride Month, and on May 17, which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Display of the Pride banner has been a flashpoint with social conservatives since some embassies began displaying the flag during Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration. Republican President Donald Trump banned flying Pride flags at US embassies. The Biden administration then reversed the ban shortly after taking office.

Some conservatives have criticized US embassies’ display of the Pride flag and Black Lives Matter flag — which also would be barred by the provision — as politically divisive.

Republicans applauded when Johnson announced the ban in a closed-door meeting, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

A Democrat familiar with the funding deal said the provision prohibits displaying any flag other than an approved US flag, so it also would prevent embassies from flying Confederate or Trump-themed “Make America Great Again” flags. There is no ban on embassy officials’ personal use of Pride flags.

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The provision grants exceptions allowing embassies to fly flags commemorating prisoners of war or a hostage and wrongful detainee flag.

The prohibition on unapproved flags would only last for the duration of the funding deal, which ends Sept. 30.

Republican Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, who has regularly introduced legislation to stop display of non-US flags at embassies, said he took on the cause after learning an embassy in South America displayed a rainbow flag. Duncan named his legislation the “Old Glory Only Act.”

--With assistance from Erik Wasson.

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