Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Take Down My Flag? -- Molon Labe

Recently, a combat veteran and current active duty US Army Soldier returned home to his lawfully owned condominium in Huntsville, Alabama.

Upon arriving home, he found a notice from the condominium's home owners' association demanding he remove his flag "ASAP" because it is visible from the parking lot. The association claims that the US Flag, being visible from the parking lot, gives the complex an "untidy appearance".

The problem is Staff Sergeant (E-6) Weir owns the condominium. He owns the flag. Both are on private property. SSG Weir is a combat veteran of multiple tours who put his life on the line for the people and ideals that flag represents. He has more than earned the right to proudly display that flag, as long as he does so with proper respect and presentation.

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Rightfully, this being his private property, SSG Weir has replied with "Molon Labe" written in Greek letters. "Molon Labe" means "come take it" or "come take them". The phrase is commonly used by Second Amendment advocates. The historic tale of the saying dates back to the times of Sparta. When threatened with siege, the invading tyrants told the Spartans to lay down their arms and they would negotiate a peaceful surrender. The Spartan king responded with "Come Take Them!".  




In addition, he has a federal law passed on July 24, 2006 (HR 42) protecting his right to display that flag:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005'.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    For purposes of this Act--
      (1) the term `flag of the United States' has the meaning given the term `flag, standard, colors, or ensign' under section 3 of title 4, United States Code;
      (2) the terms `condominium association' and `cooperative association' have the meanings given such terms under section 604 of Public Law 96-399 (15 U.S.C. 3603);
      (3) the term `residential real estate management association' has the meaning given such term under section 528 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 528); and
      (4) the term `member'--
        (A) as used with respect to a condominium association, means an owner of a condominium unit (as defined under section 604 of Public Law 96-399 (15 U.S.C. 3603)) within such association;
        (B) as used with respect to a cooperative association, means a cooperative unit owner (as defined under section 604 of Public Law 96-399 (15 U.S.C. 3603)) within such association; and
        (C) as used with respect to a residential real estate management association, means an owner of a residential property within a subdivision, development, or similar area subject to any policy or restriction adopted by such association.

SEC. 3. RIGHT TO DISPLAY THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES.

    A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.

SEC. 4. LIMITATIONS.

    Nothing in this Act shall be considered to permit any display or use that is inconsistent with--
      (1) any provision of chapter 1 of title 4, United States Code, or any rule or custom pertaining to the proper display or use of the flag of the United States (as established pursuant to such chapter or any otherwise applicable provision of law); or
      (2) any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag of the United States necessary to protect a substantial interest of the condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.

SSG Weir is not the only individual who has faced opposition from a home owners' association, apartment complex, or condominium association. In June 2012, a North Carolina citizen, home owner, and retired US Marine, John Dillon,  had a similar battle with his HOA. 

Housing Associations and renters facing a losing battle attempting to remove the flags. The First Amendment upholds the right to display the flag. HR 42 prohibits the associations from infringing upon the proper display of US Flags and military banners, including the Gadsden Flag that many uninformed incorrectly call the "Tea Party Flag". The Gadsden dates back to the War of Independence and was a colonial military banner.