Take Pride Flag Down

(WSVN) - It’s Pride Month, a time to honor the progress and achievements of the LGBTQ community. One South Florida family is showing their support with a flag flying from their house, but their association told them they had to take it down. It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

A husband, a wife and two adorable children. A nice family living in a nice Davie neighborhood.

Chris Wenk, has pride flag: “It’s a great neighborhood. A lot of young families.”

Also a very patriotic neighborhood, with American flags flying everywhere.

Chris Wenk: “I am 100% in support of the American flag.”

But Chris and Virginia are on Help Me Howard because they fly this flag.

Chris Wenk: “I also stand behind the LGBTQ Pride flag, and that’s why I chose to pick a hybrid of the two.”

The flag, with 50 stars and the rainbow colors, has flown over the house since they moved in two years ago.

Virginia Warren, supports LGBTQ community: “My son’s godfather is a gay man. My best friend is a married woman. She is a lesbian. The most important people in my life are all part of the community.”

Many neighbors complimented them on their pride flag, but after it flew for nearly two years, the association changed their rules about flags.

Chris Wenk: “You are only allowed to fly an American flag with the colors that are traditionally displayed on the American flag, and they wanted me to take my LGBTQ flag down.”

But when you ride around the neighborhood, you see a black and white American flag with the thin red line to honor firefighters.

There is a Conch Republic flag and several welcome flags with bright, colorful drawings of everything from flowers to a peacock.

Virginia thinks that’s great for her neighbors, but…

Virginia Warren: “To be told your flag is fine that says, ‘Spring is here,’ down the road, but my flag that is supporting such an important cause is unacceptable is really a problem, in my opinion.”

Chris said he would argue even the association violates their own rule about only official United States flags by writing, ‘Welcome to Forest Ridge,’ on their displays.

Virginia Warren: “Leave it alone. ‘Who are we hurting with the flag?’ is really my question.”

And so, facing fines and a legal fight, Chris and Virginia did what they felt they had to do.

Virginia Warren: “No, we are not going to take it down. No. If I don’t stand up for this cause, then who will?”

Well Howard, can an association ban every flag that’s not red, white and blue, like this flag, but allow other flags to fly?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes, they can ban every flag that’s not the ‘official’ U.S. flag, but they cannot do what the law calls, ‘selectively enforce the rule.’ They cannot ban a pride flag and allow a welcome flag or a firefighter flag. That’s selective enforcement, meaning Chris and Virginia can continue to fly their flag.”

I then spoke to Matthew Zifrony, the attorney for the association.

He said their board is very tolerant, but they have to enforce the restrictive covenant that only allows official U.S. flags.

That means all Chris and Virginia’s neighbors also have to take them down, but Zifrony added the board came up with a compromise for people like Chris and Virginia.

Their covenants do allow banners in the yards, meaning you can put a pride banner in the yard to replace the pride flag.

Chris Wenk: “I am appreciative.”

Appreciative he can have a pride banner but still not happy he has to take down a pride flag.

Chris Wenk: “What is so offensive about these particular colors on the flag?”

One interesting twist — the association will have to approve the banner before you can put it up, but the board’s attorney says that’s not to stop people from putting up pride banners or firefighter banners. It’s to stop people from putting up banners that promote intolerance or are offensive. I guess you have to think of every possibility when you run an association.

Not having a banner day trying to solve a problem? Don’t lose your tolerance. Flag us down. We take great pride in finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for you.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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