Within weeks of being confirmed as former President Donald Trump
's first interior secretary, Ryan Zinke
revived an obscure military
tradition, insisting on a security
guard raising and lowering a special secretarial flag above the agency's headquarters in Washington
, every time Zinke entered or exited the building.
, President Joe Biden
's interior secretary, has taken a far more inclusive approach, going to the building's roof on Monday to raise a Progress Pride Flag to commemorate LGBTQ Pride Month
, the first Pride flag to ever fly above the agency's headquarters.
“Despite many hard-fought victories, there is still a long way to go to ensure full liberation, peace, and equality for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Haaland in a statement.
Today, we celebrate love. For the first time, the Progress Pride Flag has been raised over @Interior. Happy Pride! pic.twitter.com/8ahpf1WtKY — Secretary Deb Haaland (@SecDebHaaland) June 14, 2021
According to Interior, the flag "includes black
and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, as well as the colors pink
, light blue, and white, which are used on the Transgender
Haaland took over the agency from a Trump administration
that had repeatedly attempted to undermine LGBTQ equality.
Interior officials, for example, removed the words “sexual orientation” from anti-discrimination language in the agency’s ethics guide
in 2019, as Stardia reported. At the time, the agency dismissed the change as a “non-story,” noting that under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, the term “sex” covers both sexual orientation and gender identity
a perplexing explanation, given that the Trump administration avers that the term “sex” includes both sexual orientation and gender identity
Dozens of conservation
organizations signed a letter demanding that then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who succeeded Zinke at the helm of the agency under Trump, reinstate the language, arguing that doing so would “have a chilling effect on LGBTQ people
applying for jobs
at DOI and it betrays current Interior Department
The Interior Department did not respond immediately to Stardia's question about whether the old guidance had been restored.
“Justice and equality for LGBTQ+ people is more than a policy issue for me; it’s personal,” Haaland said in a statement released Monday. “I am fully committed to making the Interior Department a leader on inclusion and equity, and to ensuring our decisions are informed by and centered on the voices of a diverse American public.”
On June 1, Biden issued an official proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month — something Trump never did — and has worked to reverse a number of previous administration's anti-LGBTQ policies, including a ban on transgender people serving in the military.