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White House looking for 'opportunity to repeal' funding bill provision preventing US embassies from flying pride flags

The White House said it is looking to work with Congress to repeal an effective ban on LGBTQ pride flags flown over U.S. embassies in legislation funding the government through September.

President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion spending package Saturday, hailing the agreement as a compromise in which “neither side got everything it wanted.”

LGBTQ advocates criticized a provision in the bill prohibiting State Department facilities from displaying flags other than the United States flag — a restriction they argued was drafted with the intent of removing pride flags from certain government buildings.

A nearly identical amendment was dropped from the National Defense Authorization Act in December. In July, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), who introduced the amendment, said it was needed to prevent a “rainbow flag” from flying at U.S. military bases.

Restrictions included in the bill signed Saturday do not apply to the POW/MIA flag or the flag of a state, U.S. territory or the District of Columbia, among other exceptions.

The White House in a Friday statement said Biden did not support the provision, and the administration was looking for opportunities to repeal it.

“President Biden believes it was inappropriate to abuse the process that was essential to keep the government open by including this policy targeting LGBTQI+ Americans,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.

“While it will have no impact on the ability of members of the LGBTQI+ community to serve openly in our embassies or to celebrate pride, 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,” the spokesperson said.

They added the White House was successful “in defeating 50+ other policy riders attacking the LGBTQI+ community that Congressional Republicans attempted to insert into the legislation.”

Previous iterations of the annual spending package included provisions that would have restricted access to gender-affirming health care and prevented the federal government from adequately responding to some instances of sex-based discrimination.

The White House in October issued veto threats against two House appropriations bills, citing, among other issues, threats to “the health and safety of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Americans.”

The Congressional Equality Caucus, responsible for advocating for LGBTQ rights in Congress, declined to comment on the Biden administration’s interest in repealing the provision concerning pride flags. The House GOP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Source: The Hill

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