Colorlines, News Report
PHOENIX - As Arizona’s legislative season wraps up and folks survey this year’s damage, it wasn’t all relief and the return of common sense.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that welcomed the Gadsden flag, the unofficial tea partiers’ flag with the angry coiled snake sitting atop the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me,” among other flags that homeowners associations may not restrict the display of in residential areas. With this new law, the Gadsden flag will join the same protections that the American and Arizona state flags, the flags of any branch of the military and the flags of any Indian nation currently have.
“Many people in this state live under the rule of homeowners’ associations,” Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona told Fox News last year, after Arizona resident Andy McDonel was told to take his Gadsden flag down off his house. “But HOAs don’t have the power to hijack Arizonans’ free speech rights. The Arizona Legislature recognized the importance of protecting the right to free expression, which is why they passed the law allowing individuals to fly American flags and those of the armed forces.”
The ACLU defended McDonel’s right to fly his Gadsden flag. And McDonel insisted that the flag is simply an expression of his American patriotism.
“This falls under a military service flag,” McDonel told Fox. “I think they’re associating it with a political movement going on right now. The history and the significance of the flag far supersedes any political movement that’s going on.”
This week, he won the right to fly his Gadsden flag freely.