Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that he has joined 16 of his Senate colleagues in opposition to the State Department decision to reject requests from four embassies to fly a rainbow flag on embassy flagpoles in recognition of Pride month. Noting this year’s State Department Human Rights Report that indicates “LGBTQI violence and discrimination remained widespread around the world in 2018,” the Senators made clear any decision to limit official support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) rights would send the wrong signal to the rest of the world about the U.S.’s commitment to this foreign policy priority.
In addition, the Senators’ letter asks Secretary Pompeo to explain the Department’s decision to: 1) not issue an official statement this year commemorating Pride month, 2) not issue a normally routine cable outlining activities for embassies to commemorate Pride, and 3) continue to not fill the vacant position of LGBTQI special envoy.
“This community requires our moral leadership and support,” write the Senators in the letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “But preventing the official flying of rainbow flags and limiting public messages celebrating Pride Month signals to the international community that the United States is abandoning the advancement of LGBTQI rights as a foreign policy priority.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Other Senators signing the letter include Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA.), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Patty Murray (D-WA).