pride flagA gay pride flag hanging outside Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s Washington, D.C. office was removed and stomped on yesterday by a man who called it “disgusting” and “immoral,” according to the congressman. The flag has been in place for the last four years in solidarity with the LGBT community.

“I have committed to fly it proudly until LGBT people have all of the same rights I have and until our laws protect LGBT people from discrimination and violence,” Lowenthal wrote on Facebook this morning. “Sadly, the violent and disturbing behavior of this individual yesterday demonstrated that we aren’t there yet.
His actions yesterday—intended to intimidate and demean—only make me and those that love freedom and justice want to fight that much harder.”

The man barged into the Capitol Hill office on Wednesday and criticized Lowenthal for flying the pride flag. He then went back into the hallway outside the office, removed the flag from the stand, threw it to the ground and stomped on it, said the congressman.

“He told my staff that the flag was ‘disgusting, immoral, and goes against everything that is right’,” Lowenthal wrote.

That particular flag has been flown since March 2013, prior to the Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8, according to Keith Higginbotham, Lowenthal’s communications director, adding that it was the first pride flag to fly outside a congressional office on a permanent basis.

“This flag was also taken to the steps of the Supreme Court when the marriage equality ruling was released,” Higginbotham said in an email.

Lowenthal, who is vice chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, also called for the passage of the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lowenthal was not present at the time of the incident, according to the Los Angeles Times. His chief of staff and other staff members who did witness it were able to follow the man down the hallway and urge him to return to the office and speak with Capitol police.

Lowenthal told the Times that Capitol police spoke with the man at the office and then told staff “he didn’t break any rules or any laws, so they let him go.”

Above, left photo: courtesy of Lowenthal’s office.

Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.