The rainbow flag that symbolizes the LGBTQ community will not be flown at U.S. military bases, the Department of Defense said Friday in a statement.
The Pentagon will "maintain existing policy for the display of unofficial flags" and "not grant an exception to display the Pride flag" at military bases, spokesman John Kirby said in a statement to CNN.
Kirby added that the decision does not "in any way reflect on the respect and admiration we feel for all our LGBTQ+ personnel in and out of uniform."
The statement puts the Defense Department at odds with the State Department. In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a blanket authorization for U.S. diplomatic outposts to fly the LGBTQ community’s Pride flag on the same flagpole as the American flag at embassies and consulates.
The DOD policy, which limits which unofficial flags can be displayed at military bases, was put in place by then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper last July.
Esper’s announcement, in part, had to do with banning the Confederate flag and other potential hate symbols on bases amid last summer's racial tensions.
Kirby said the Pentagon’s decision not to change the policy "stems, rather, from a concern about other challenges to the policy that an exception of this kind might engender and encourage.”
A senior defense official told CNN part of the DOD’s concern was that any change to the policy could result in any number of cause-related flags and symbols being displayed on military installations.
President Joe Biden has declared June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month, keeping in step with other Democratic presidents. Bill Clinton began the practice in 1999.
Kirby said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will participate in Pride Month activities at the Pentagon next week.
"[Austin] encourages all commands to likewise find ways to recognize the service and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community in defense of this nation," Kirby said.
The Defense Department held its first LGBTQ Pride Month event at the Pentagon in 2012, according to CNN.
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