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Tipsheet

State Lawmaker Says Flying Gay Pride Flag On Capitol Building 'Violates...Tenets of Tolerance and Inclusion'

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Several state capitol buildings have flown the gay pride flag this month in an effort to show unity and acceptance, but some lawmakers question whether the flying of the flag does more harm than good. 

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In a press release sent last week, State Rep. Scott Allen pushed back against Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’s (D) decision to fly the rainbow flag:

“On a larger scale, if his actions are part of a cultural movement with ethical judgements and involving matters of conscience, the raising of the banner may be interpreted in a religious context...This action by the governor coincided with the annual ritual of Pride Fest in Milwaukee. Was the act of raising the flag over the Capitol an imposition of beliefs by government decree?”

State Rep. Allen also questioned whether the Wisconsin governor’s move represented a breach of the first amendment’s establishment clause: 

“I oppose Governor Evers actions not because I am a Christian, but because I am an American...It is not the place of Government to raise a flag over government buildings that does not symbolize the unity of the people who are governed. The humanism seemingly promoted by our governor violates its own tenets of tolerance and inclusion. Does it violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment as well?”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) also hung a rainbow flag on the Colorado State Capitol last week, though it was not hoisted on the flagpole. “The Pride Flag is on display this weekend at our Colorado State Capitol. I’m so proud to be the governor of a state that celebrates diversity and love,” a post says on Governor Polis’s Facebook page. A tweet shows the governor leaping into the air in front of the flag:

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The Hill reported that the rainbow flags made an appearance in Michigan as well: “Pride flags flew outside the George W. Romney Building, the main office of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), for the first time in history.”

And in California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted an image of the rainbow pride flag flying at the State Capitol today. A press release noted that this is the first time the flag has ever been hoisted on the capitol’s flagpole, although it has previously been displayed elsewhere at the California State Capitol.

“While today is the first time the pride flag has flown on the flag pole above the State Capitol, the flag has previously been hung over balconies both inside and outside of the building and the Capitol dome was illuminated in rainbow colors in June 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all states to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states,” the press release says.

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Vice President Mike Pence recently said that he supports the policy barring U.S. embassies from flying any flag on their flagpole other than the stars and stripes.

“I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flagpole of our American embassies that one flag should fly, and that’s the American flag and I support that,” Pence explained. He also said that “having the one American flag fly I think is the right decision. And we put no restrictions on displaying any other flags or any other, any other displays at our embassies beyond that.”

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