Officials in Baldwin County, Alabama have refused to respond to the order from the White House that national flags across the country be lowered to show respect for the victims of the Orlando massacre. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley reiterated the proclamation after it was issued by President Obama.
Baldwin County Commissioner Tucker Dorsey stated that while he is “certainly heartbroken in the face of tragedy,” the code states that the flag should only be lowered “for instances where there are the passing of individuals who have given significant distinguished service to our country.”
“I look at the terrorist events and I think about our flag and about how it identifies and characterizes the mood of the country,” Dorsey said. “When I think about, for instance, 9/11, I kind of picture the three firemen raising the flag in the rubble the next day after the event. That’s really how I feel about it,” he said.
“Lowering the flags to half-staff after [a] mass shooting or terrorist event is not a valid circumstance or memorial as specified in the U.S. flag code. I realize that the President and Governor may make the order, but I believe and interpret their order inconsistent with the adopted flag code,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Guidelines do exist for when to lower the national flag, but they are only advisory in nature. The Commissioner does have discretion over whether to fly the flag at half-mast or not. However there has been backlash not only for his defiance of an order from both the president and the governor but for what many see as an act of hostility and disdain towards the LGBT community.