PD Editorial: Let the rainbow flag fly at US embassies

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A rainbow flag is flying over Santa Rosa’s downtown police station.

The flag, an internationally recognized symbol of the LGBQT community, was raised by local police officers and will remain in place, beneath the stars and stripes, throughout June to salute Pride Month.

Similar displays of solidarity — and commitment to the core values of diversity and equality — can be seen throughout the community, the state, the nation and around the globe, reflecting a transformation in public support for gay rights over the past decade. In recent years, rainbow flags have flown over many U.S. diplomatic missions during the month of June.

The rules required only that the flag be smaller than and fly beneath the American flag.

This year, despite an official presidential statement saluting Pride Month and urging all nations to “stand in solidarity” against countries that “punish, imprison or even execute” LGBQT people, the State Department told American embassies and consulates they couldn’t fly the rainbow flag. Sad.

Some embassies devised creative alternatives, according to a Washington Post report, and some are simply defying the State Department edict.

Having parsed the language of an order against flying the flag, U.S. missions in Berlin, Seoul and Chennai, India hanged rainbow flags from their walls. In New Delhi, rainbow-colored lights illuminate the embassy. Some missions settled for posting President Donald Trump’s statement supporting Pride Month on their websites, with the embassy in Brasilia adding a photo of two hands holding rainbow-colored Play-Doh letters spelling out LGBQT.

Elsewhere, ambassadors have posted photos of themselves participating in Pride celebrations or standing outside their embassies alongside fellow employees holding rainbow-colored balloons spelling out Pride 19.

One diplomat, speaking anonymously to the Post, called it “a category one insurrection.”

To us, it seems more like civil disobedience. Whatever you call it, American diplomatic personnel are standing up for human rights and standing up to homophobia. Their protests almost certainly are attracting more attention to the cause than simply flying the flag.

But if the U.S. government is serious about ending persecution of LGBQT people, it shouldn’t be sending mixed signals. Let the rainbow flags fly.

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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