Vice President Pence on Monday defended the State Department's decision to bar U.S. embassies from flying rainbow flags on their flagpoles during LGBT Pride Month, saying that it was the "right" move.
Pence acknowledged in an interview with NBC News that he was aware that the State Department had "indicated" that the American flag should be the only flag flying on U.S. embassies' flagpoles. He added that he supported the move.
Asked whether the move ran counter to Trump's expressed support for LGBT Pride Month, Pence said that he and the president were "proud to be able to serve every American."
"We both feel that way very passionately, but when it comes to the American flagpole and American embassies and capitals around the world, having the one American flag fly is the right decision," he said, adding that the Trump administration had administered no other restrictions regarding flags or displays at U.S. embassies.
NBC News first reported last week that the Trump administration had rejected requests from at least four U.S. embassies to fly rainbow pride flags during the month of June. Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia were among the countries that reportedly received denials.
Some U.S. diplomats responded to the rejections by displaying the LGBT pride flag in different settings. For example, diplomatic missions in Seoul, South Korea, and Chennai, India, sent out press releases and videos showing the flag hanging outside their respective buildings.
The Washington Post noted that other embassies opted to display the rainbow flag on building facades.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus explained the administration's position on Monday, saying that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believed only American flags should be flown on the flagpoles outside embassies.
“Pride Month that we’re in right now is celebrated around the world by many State Department employees, by many embassies,” Ortagus said in a press briefing. “The secretary has the position that, as it relates to the flagpole, that only the American flag should be flown there.”
The Trump administration policy largely differs from that of the Obama administration during Pride Month. The prior administration instituted rules that the rainbow flag needed to be smaller than the American flag and fly beneath it. It also left the decision to fly the pride flag up to each ambassador or chief of mission by 2016, the Post reported.