|House Passes Equality Bill for D.C. Flag, Service Members and Veterans|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that a provision requiring the armed services to display the D.C. and territorial flags whenever the flags of the 50 states are displayed was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 Conference Report, which passed the House today. The Senate is expected to approve the House-passed conference report on Friday. Earlier this year, Norton did an investigation after learning from D.C. resident Tomi Rucker, an investigator with the D.C. Fire and EMS Department, that the Navy did not display the D.C. flag at her son’s boot-camp graduation ceremony at Naval Station Great Lakes while the state flags of all the other graduates were displayed. Norton spoke with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and at high levels of the White House, made speeches on the House floor, held a press conference with delegates from the territories, whose flags are also not required to be displayed, and demanded respect for the flag on Veterans Day at a press conference at the D.C. War Memorial. Last week, a dozen D.C. veterans met with the offices of Chairman Levin and the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain (R-AZ), respectively, to describe their disappointment and humiliation when the D.C. flag was not displayed along with state flags during Welcome-Home and other military ceremonies.
“The D.C. flag provision may seem trivial in the context of a $640 billion defense policy bill,” Norton said, “but people who live in the nation’s capital, especially our service members and veterans who put their lives on the line to defend this country, are entitled to dignity and respect. D.C. residents have fought for this country in every war since the war that created the nation without a vote in the body that sends them to war. We honor foreign visitors by displaying their flags. Surely, honoring the D.C. flag is the least amount of recognition this country owes our D.C. service members and veterans. We are especially grateful to the D.C. residents, particularly Seaman Jonathan Rucker’s mother, Tomi Rucker, and our veterans, who put D.C. faces on our campaign to get the flag provision in the conference report. We also appreciate the indispensible help of Chairman Levin and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), as well as President Obama.
The conference report was also noteworthy for what was excluded. The conference committee rejected a House-passed provision, introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), expressing the sense of Congress that active duty military personnel should be exempt from the gun laws of only one jurisdiction, the District of Columbia. “Even though a sense of the Congress provision is not law, there was no way we could ignore this gun provision and open the door again to a new congressional assault on our gun laws,” Norton said.
The gun provision was the third attack this Congress on D.C.’s gun safety laws. In November 2011, Norton scored a victory when the House Judiciary Committee defeated an amendment that would have allowed out-of-state residents with state-issued concealed carry permits to carry concealed guns in the District. Most important, the NRA-backed D.C. gun bill (H.R. 645), which forced Norton to pull the D.C. House Voting Rights Act from the House floor last Congress, was reintroduced this Congress with 174 cosponsors, despite federal district and appeals court rulings upholding the constitutionality of the District’s post-Heller gun laws.
Published: December 20, 2012