State Dept. Diversity Officer Defends Flying Pride Flag At Vatican Embassy

(Screenshot/Foreign Affairs Committee)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The State Department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer said Tuesday that the United States did not need to coordinate with the Catholic Church before flying a Pride flag at its embassy to the Vatican.

The Biden administration faced criticism from some Catholics for using the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See to promote Pride Month, including by flying the “progress flag” at the embassy. The State Department’s top official for advancing DEI, Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, said Tuesday during a Congressional hearing that the U.S. does not need to run decisions like that by the Vatican first.

Abercrombie-Winstanley faced criticism for the move while testifying Tuesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Accountability and Oversight hearing on the Biden administration’s proposed budget for State Department DEI initiatives.

“The decision to fly or not fly a flag is a Chief of Mission decision,” Abercrombie-Winstanley said when Republican Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson asked whether the State Department coordinated with the Vatican before “flying flags that are hostile to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”

Abercrombie-Winstanley said she would take Davidson’s question back to her team to get an answer, so Davidson pivoted to ask whether the decision “should” have been coordinated.

“We are a sovereign nation and we make our own decisions,” Abercrombie-Winstanley answered. (RELATED: State Department Offers Counseling To Employees Misgendered In Emails)

The State Department has flown Pride flags this month at a number of embassies across the world, from Canada to Vatican City to Haiti. The flags are noticeably absent in most Muslim-majority countries, for reasons the administration has not explained.

Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first chief diversity and inclusion officer in State Department history, will step down from her post later this month.