The Pentagon on Friday unveiled a new policy that effectively bans the display of the Confederate flag — without actually naming it.
The policy, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO ahead of the official rollout, reflects an effort to find a compromise on the divisive issue, as Defense Secretary Mark Esper strives to satisfy military leaders without irking President Donald Trump, who has criticized NASCAR for banning the flag.
A draft version of the policy reportedly explicitly banned the Confederate flag on Defense Department property. Yet the official language simply lists the types of flags that are allowed to be displayed, including the American flag; the flags of the U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia; military flags and those of allies.
“The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols,” Esper wrote in the memo. The guidance applies to the public displays of flags by service members or DoD civilians “in all DoD work places, common access areas, and public areas.
By not enumerating it, the memo also effectively bans the LGBT Rainbow Pride flag.
Rudy Coots, president of DOD (Department of Defense) Pride, objects to the new policy because it would change Pride displays and events at the Pentagon.
“We were shocked to learn DOD’s new policy on the public display of flags bans the Rainbow Pride Flag from DOD workplaces,
Banning the Rainbow Pride Flag will have the opposite effect of the policy’s intended purpose of improving morale, cohesion and readiness. For LGBT soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and civilians protecting our nation each and every day, and their allies, the flag is a joyous symbol of hope, acceptance and accomplishment that should continue to be displayed proudly.”
“It’s absolutely outrageous that Defense Secretary Mark Esper would ban the Pride flag — the very symbol of inclusion and diversity,” said Jennifer Dane, interim executive director for the Modern Military Association of America . “In what universe is it OK to turn an opportunity to ban a racist symbol like the Confederate flag into an opportunity to ban the symbol of diversity? This decision sends an alarming message to LGBT service members, their families and future recruits.”