Steve King Co-Sponsors Bill That Would Prohibit Embassies from Flying Pride Flag

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Steve King is among 33 co-sponsors of a new bill that would “prohibit the flying of any flag other than the United States flag over United States diplomatic and consular posts, and for other purposes” — legislation that critics contend is intended to prevent US embassies from flying the LGBT pride flag.

The legislation, introduced last week by Congressman Jeff Duncan, R-SC, would not exclusively apply to pride flags, although it comes “after a few recent incidents in which a rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride and LGBT rights was flown above some embassies,” according to a report Thursday in the Washington Examiner. (The video above shows the pride flag being flown at the US embassy in Belmopan, the capital city of Belize, last month.)

“The United States flag is the single greatest symbol of freedom the world has ever known, and there’s no reason for anything but Old Glory to be flying over our embassies and posts around the globe,” Duncan told the Examiner.

But the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper, noted that many of the bill’s co-sponsors, including King, have “notoriously anti-LGBT records.”

Ian Thompson, the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative director, had a similar impression. “I don’t believe it is specific to rainbow/Pride flags, but that is clearly the motivation for this ridiculous, petty bill,” he told the Blade. “It is telling that many of the most doggedly anti-LGBTQ members of the House of Representatives are co-sponsors.”

King is a longtime opponent of LGBT rights. In 2016, he added language to an appropriations bill in an effort to prevent people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in buildilngs Congress had jurisdiction over. The year before, reacting to the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, he snarked, “Their ruling really says anybody can marry anybody…. You could marry your lawnmower.” In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT civil rights organization, inducted him into its “Hall of Shame.”

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.