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Members of Congress sued over rainbow ‘pride flags’

LONG BEACH — U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, has vowed to fight a federal lawsuit attempting to force him and three other congressional colleagues to remove “Pride Flags” from their Washington, D.C., offices.

The lawsuit was filed July 18 in Washington by Chris Sevier, who describes himself in the lawsuit as a “former judge advocate general, combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, D.C. lobbyist, overseas missionary, whistleblower and recording artist.”

Lowenthal is named as a defendant along with Reps. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, Donald Beyer, D-Virginia, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon.

In his 36-page complaint, Sevier said he was offended by the defendants displaying the banner, a symbol of gay and lesbian pride, outside their offices but was not opposed to the flag being displayed inside congressional offices.

The suit “respectfully asks” that a judge force the four lawmakers to “remove the Gay Pride Rainbow Colored Flag on display.”

Among other things, Sevier asked the court to declare homosexuality a religion and strike down rulings that led to the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage. He also seeks damages of $1 and to recoup legal fees.

In his court papers, Sevier argues that “homosexuality” is a “religion,” so the display of the flag violates the 1st Amendment establishment clause.

Lowenthal said he was the first to raise the Pride flag in his office in March 2013.

“I fly the Pride Flag outside my office in support of every LGBTQ individual — those in my district, those in our nation, and those around the world,” Lowenthal said. “It is a symbol of both how far we have come on equality for all Americans and, as these incidents illustrate, how far we still have to go. It is a symbol of love, of peace and diversity. I will fight this hateful attempt to silence equality and justice. We have come too far to allow the voices of bigotry and hate to win.”

Davis also released a statement, saying it was “disheartening that in this day and age this is still an issue.”

“Be assured that hateful lawsuits are not going to stop me from celebrating our nation’s diversity. If anything, this lawsuit is a reminder of the need for us to work even harder for full equality for all Americans,” she said. “As the proud representative of the heart of LGBTQ San Diego, the rainbow flag in front of my D.C. office is a source of pride for me and my constituents. It is a symbol of our commitment to full equality.”

In his complaint, Sevier said that he feels unwelcome in public areas of federal buildings where rainbow flags are displayed and is unable to approach the defendants to perform his lobbying duties.

According to news reports, Sevier has filed suit in Utah and other states demanding the right to marry his laptop computer, in light of the same-sex marriage ruling.

 

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