Ambassador Richard Grenell approved the flying of the rainbow flag at the U.S. Embassy in Germany, seemingly in violation of Trump administration policy.
Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay official in Donald Trump’s administration, shared a photograph of the flag on Twitter and Instagram, as well as a large rainbow-colored banner on the building.
The Trump administration in June denied requests from embassies around the world to fly Pride flags on flagpoles at embassies. Some reportedly displayed the flag anyway. Most honored the letter of the directive but put up sometimes-elaborate rainbow displays that did not use the flagpole.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 24, 2019
The rainbow flag appeared on the pole outside the U.S. embassy for Berlin Pride, which is scheduled Saturday.
And in a tweet, Grenell seemed to imply the embassy got around the Trump administration edict by leaving only the American flag on the pole atop the embassy and flying the rainbow flag on a different pole.
“It’s Berlin Pride this weekend. And we are proud to have two flagpoles,” Grenell tweeted, tagging the post “#solutions.”
But State Department officials responded to a query from The Advocate by referring to remarks by State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus clarifying the policy June 10. Ortagus noted no exceptions for secondary flagpoles. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set the policy, Ortagus said.
“The Secretary has the position that – as it relates to the flagpole – that only the American flag should be flown there,” she said.
The flag could be flown in other locations indoors and outdoors, Ortagus said, but not on any embassy flagpoles.
Vice President Mike Pence asserted as much the same day in an interview with NBC News. Pence said he spoke for President Trump on the matter as well.
"As the president said on the night we were elected, we're proud to be able to serve every American," Pence said. “"We both feel that way very passionately, but when it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies."
The U.S. Embassy in Germany shared a video showing the variety of ways LGBTQ pride will be displayed this week, including draping a mock Statue of Liberty in the rainbow flag, posting rainbow vinyl stickers on a decorative arch at the embassy’s entrance, and hanging a 30-foot banner at the embassy
Grenell in his Instagram post noted the message on that massive display includes the words “Unsere Botshaft heißt LIEBE,” which roughly translates to “Our Embassy Is Love.”
“Also, the German word for Embassy is also Message… so Our Message is Love,” wrote Grenell.
He tagged that post #berlinpride, @equality #usa and #Trumpadministration.
When news broke last month that embassies could not fly rainbow flags on flagpoles, Grenell said the embassy would participate in Berlin Pride.
"The President's recognition of Pride Month and his tweet encouraging our decriminalization campaign gives me even more pride to once again march in the Berlin Pride parade, hang a huge banner on the side of the Embassy recognizing our pride, host multiple events at the Embassy and the residence, and fly the gay pride flag," he said at the time.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced with the help of Grenell that it would be focusing on "decriminalizing" homosexuality around the world.
However, no tangible policies or actions have been reported since that announcement — instead the Trump administration has continued to roll back LGBTQ rights domestically, especially in the military.