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A California congressman reports that a man came to his Capitol Hill office on Wednesday, took down a Pride flag displayed there, and repeatedly stomped on it.
U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D), says the man told his staff that it was “immoral” and “disgusting” to fly the Pride flag near the American flag. Lowenthal, the vice chairman of the House LGBT Caucus, has displayed a Pride flag outside his office since March 2013, but has never had someone make a negative comment about it or attempt to desecrate it.
“The fact that someone would grab a flag that they didn’t like and not just throw it on the ground, but stomp all over it … it’s certainly shocking,” Lowenthal told the Los Angeles Times.
The following day, Lowenthal — who was not in his office at the time of the incident — tweeted about it, before shifting the focus to the need to pass the Equality Act.
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) March 16, 2017
The Equality Act, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.) in 2015, would have amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill also expands the definition of what constitutes a “public accommodation,” and includes a list of other protections and prohibitions for individuals in both educational and government entities.
According to a statement on Lowenthal’s website:
“Other visitors in the hallway verbally reprimanded him and after he left, replaced the flag. They then notified the Congressman’s staff, who caught up to the man, verified he was the one who had stomped on the flag before escorting him into the custody of Capitol Police officers.”
Capitol Police reportedly spoke with the man, but let him go because he hadn’t broken any rules or laws, the Times reports. The Pride flag has since been placed back on display.
Lowenthal later tweeted out a speech seen on C-SPAN where he made the following statement about the incident:
“Since 2013, I have flown the Pride flag outside my office in solidarity with the LGBT community. According to the House historian, I was the first to do so, a fact that I am very proud of.
“Yesterday, outside my office in Washington, D.C., a man took that flag out its holder, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. He called the flag ‘disgusting and immoral.’
“This flag is a symbol of Pride for the LGBT community. An international symbol of love, understanding, equality and hope. The shadows of intolerance have grown longer in recent days. Bomb threats called into Jewish community centers, desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, hate crimes against minorities and the transgender community, horrifically racist statements from a member of this body.
“To all our brothers and sisters, who endure through these hateful acts, we stand with you. And we will continue to fight for your rights and your equality.”
Watch a clip of Lowenthal’s speech below:
Senior editor John Riley also contributed to this report.
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