DEMOCRATIC Governor Tony Evers has ordered that the gay pride flag be flown over Madison, the state capitol of Wisconsin.
The decision has drawn backlash from conservatives around the country, while Democrats are describing the move as a “symbol of inclusivity”.
Gov. Evers says in the order that the rainbow flag has become an important symbol for the LGBTQ community and publicly displaying it “sends a clear and unequivocal message that Wisconsin is a welcoming and inclusive place where everyone can live without fear or prosecution, judgment or discrimination.”
He said that he wanted to officially recognise June as ‘Pride month’ in the state of Wisconsin, but Republican law-maker Scott Allen criticised the decision, calling it “divisive”.
Allen tweeted: :”Is this any more appropriate than erecting the Christian flag over the Capitol?”
“[The rainbow flag] advocates a behaviour or lifestyle that some Wisconsin residents may not condone. Therefore, it is divisive,” he added.
Many Democrats were quick to praise the raising of the flag, however, with Democratic state Senator Tim Carpenter, one of five openly gay state lawmakers describing the move as “welcoming” and “inclusive”.
“This is a very welcoming sign to many of us and it signifies a new direction for Wisconsin,” he said in a statement.
“We are showing that we are a welcoming and inclusive state and that means a great deal.”
Usually, the US flag, the state flag, and a flag recognising prisoners of war would fly over the Capitol, but today they’ve instead made way for the rainbow flag, which has been the symbol for gay rights since the 1970s.
This comes just days after Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, the city’s first openly gay mayor, raised a rainbow pride flag over the building that houses city offices - accross the street from the Capitol - earlier this week.