Online criticism erupted when President Joe Biden hosted a controversial event at the White House in effort to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community for “Pride Month.”

During the event on June 10, transgender attendees were flashing their chests, members were dancing on the lawn, and the White House featured a display of two U.S. flags with the Progress Pride flag centered in between the two.

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Many criticized the flag display arguing that the position of the American flag violated the U.S. Code on the flag which states that “no other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.”

According to Charles Spain, a director at the Flag Research Center, the Flag Code does not specifically address the vertical array of flags at the White House. The Flag Code is federal law, detailing guidelines for different forms or displaying the U.S. flag. However, it does not specifically address the vertical array of flags at the White House, nor does it specify the positioning of the flag when it is not displayed by a staff.

According to Spain, the U.S. flag is therefore not required to be at the center or at the highest point of the group of flags: “[The U.S. flag] would be all the way over to your left” with the “U.S. flag to the observer’s left of the Progress Pride flag.”

Peter Keim, a National Flag Foundation (NFF) board member, mentioned that although the vertical array of flags at the White House is not specified, the “spirit” of the Flag Code was violated as the display suggests the “Progress Pride flag was displayed more prominently than the U.S. flag.”

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