Staffers at the office of Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., witnessed anti-gay bigotry firsthand on Wednesday when a man desecrated a rainbow flag outside of Lowenthal's office.
"Yesterday, an individual barged into my office in Washington and made a disparaging remark about the fact that I fly the Pride Flag outside my office," Lowenthal explained in a Facebook post. "He then went back out into the hallway outside my office, removed the flag from its holder, threw it to the ground, and stomped on it. He told my staff that the flag was 'disgusting, immoral, and goes against everything that is right.'"
Lowenthal added, "The Pride Flag is more than just a symbol of pride for the LGBT community — it stands for love, understanding, and unity."
Lowenthal is the vice chairman of the Congressional LGBT Equality Congress and described the incident as "intended to intimidate and demean," but claimed that it would "only make me and those that love freedom and justice want to fight that much harder." He then used the opportunity to promote the Equality Act, which would strengthen anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community in a number of ways.
Lowenthal told the Los Angeles Times that Capitol police discussed the incident with the perpetrator at Lowenthal's office, although they let him go because he didn't break any laws or rules. The man initially left the area after stomping on the flag but Lowenthal's chief of staff and other staffers followed him down the hallway and persuaded him to return (Lowenthal himself was not present).
"The fact that someone would grab a flag that they didn’t like and not just throw it on the ground, but stomp all over it . . . it’s certainly shocking," Lowenthal told the Los Angeles Times.