Pride Flag lawsuit dismissed against Congressman Alan Lowenthal

A lawsuit demanding that Rep. Alan Lowenthal and three other members of Congress remove the Gay Pride flags displayed outside their congressional offices has been dismissed by a federal judge. Photo: Office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal.

A lawsuit demanding that Rep. Alan Lowenthal and three other members of Congress remove the Gay Pride flags displayed outside their congressional offices has been dismissed by a federal judge.

In his ridiculous lawsuit, Chris Sevier, of Los Angeles, who had filed the suit in March 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, also demanded the court declare homosexuality to be a religion and public display of the Pride Flag by a government officer violates the First Amendment’s ban of an establishment of religion.

In addition, Sevier wanted the court to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges — the case that led to the Supreme Court affirming a right to marriage equality in 2015. (That request is legally impossible. A federal court can’t overturn a Supreme Court ruling. Duh.)

Sevier has said he wanted to marry his laptop as a protest against marriage equality.

Judge Randolph D. Moss dismissed the case Monday.

“Even without passing on [plaintiff’s] right to ‘human-laptop marriage’,” Ross ruled, “it is safe to say that government activities that remind [plaintiff] of his alleged constitutional injury do not create new constitutional injuries in their own right. These claims, accordingly, will be dismissed for lack of standing.”

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Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) was the first member of Congress to permanently fly the Pride flag outside his Capitol Hill office in 2013. Lowenthal, who represents Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill and neighboring portions of Orange County in the 47th District, also flies it inside his district offices in Long Beach and Garden Grove.

Lowenthal applauded the ruling.  

“I will continue to proudly fly the Pride Flag outside my office as a symbol of love, peace, equality, and humanity to every visitor to Capitol Hill,” Lowenthal said in a statement. “I fly it outside my office in support of every LGBTQ individual — those in my district, those in our nation, and those around the world. I will never give in to intolerance, even when cloaked in the guise of legality.”

Three other House of Representatives colleagues who fly the Pride Flag outside their D.C. offices also were named in the suit: Susan Davis of California, Don Beyer of Virginia, and Earl Blumenauer or Oregon.

Members of Congress have permanent fixtures outside each office to accommodate three flags, with two spaces going to the United States flag and the member’s state flag. The third slot is used for a personal selection.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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