Vice President Mike Pence said he ‘supports’ the State Department’s decision to not grant requests to fly the rainbow Gay Pride flag on the flagpoles outside American embassies.
‘I’m aware that the State Department indicated that the flagpole of our American embassies that one flag should flag, and that’s the American flag,’ Pence told NBC News in an interview on Monday. ‘And I support that.’
‘When it comes to the American flagpole at American embassies at capital across the world, having the one American flag fly, I think, is the right decision,’ he continued.
NBC reported last week that President Donald Trump’s State Department was declining request from embassies to flag the rainbow flag during June, which is LGBTQ Pride Month.
According to diplomats, at least Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia were told they could not fly the flag outside the embassies. But the pride flag can be seen elsewhere on embassies grounds, like inside or on exterior walls.
Pence said, however, that there were no other restrictions on flying other flags in other areas of the embassies.
‘We put no restrictions on displaying any other flags or any other displays at our embassies beyond that,’ the vice president said.
The U.S. embassy in Seoul, South Korea hung a rainbow flag on the side of the embassy building, right behind the flagpole where the American flag is flying.
Pence is a classic conservative and a staunch supporter of traditional marriage.
He has come under fire in the past for his views on gay marriage and LGBTQ rights, including opposing the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ a military policy that prevented service members from openly identifying as homosexual.
Under former President Barack Obama’s administration, embassies were given blanket permission to fly the rainbow flag on the flagpoles outside embassies during Pride Month.
Embassies that want to fly any flag other than the American flag on the pole outside of the embassy are required to obtain permission from the administration.
No approvals were granted for June this year.
The decision received backlash, especially from some Democratic presidential candidates speaking in Iowa over the weekend.
‘We have seen the Trump administration try to roll back protections for transgender people, and the Trump Education Department rollback protections for transgender students,’ Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the front-runners in the 2020 primary race, said during Meet the Candidate remarks on Saturday at the Pride Weekend celebration in Des Moines, Iowa.
‘We have recently seen the Trump State Department actually try to limit embassies from flying the Pride Flag,’ he continued, and was met with boos from the audience of about 300 people.
State Department Undersecretary for Management Brian Bulatao, likely on direction from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was the individual who denied the embassies request – a move that is in direct contrast to Trump’s claim that he is a champion for LGBT rights overseas.
‘As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation,’ Trump tweeted on May 31.
‘My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!’