By John Whiteside
files suit to fly her flags
Article Courtesy of The Herald News Online - Suburban
Posted September 7, 2002
Illinois - Donna Guinta has filed
a lawsuit in order to keep a United States Air Force flag flying on the
front of her home in the Wesmere Subdivision off Caton Farm Road.
The flag was placed there in honor
of her son, Jon Guinta, 19, who enlisted in the Air Force out of a sense
of patriotism following the Sept. 11 terrorism attack.
But the homeowners association has
threatened Guinta with fines if she doesn't remove the military flag. The
association rules say only an American flag can be flown in the subdivision.
Guinta's Air Force flag is on one
front corner of her garage, which faces the street. On the other garage
corner, she has an American flag.
State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego,
is the attorney representing Guinta in the lawsuit against Wesmere Country
Club Association and Caldwell Banker Honig-Bell. The suit asks the court
for an injunction halting them from enforcing the flag rule and assessing
"It's amazing that we had to do
this," Cross said on Friday. "I'm almost speechless. As an American, I
don't understand this board. We have a mother here who just wants to honor
her son who joined the Air Force... It's sad that we have to do this."
Jon Guinta, who graduated from Plainfield
High School last year, was deeply affected by the Sept. 11 terrorism attack
upon America, his mother said. He joined the Air Force last fall under
the delayed enlistment program.
Proud of her son, Guinta bought
the Air Force flag at a military surplus store and hung it on the garage
last fall. It has been flying there since then.
Jon left for active duty in June.
When he graduated from boot camp on Aug. 2, Guinta attended the ceremony
at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. When she returned home
a few days later, there was a letter about the flag waiting from the homeowners
The letter said she had 21 days
to take down the flag or face a fine. When she protested and noted it was
an Air Force flag, she was told it violated the rules.
"I'm not taking it down," Guinta
I first told her story in The Herald
news on Aug. 16.
After that story was published,
I received at least three phone calls from residents in Wesmere who said
they, too, were flying military flags in honor of family members. But they
hadn't received any letters from the homeowners association.
The lawsuit notes, "Plaintiff is
informed and believes that the country club association has allowed the
flying of flags other than the American flag without threat of fine. Flags
which the country club association has allowed include those depicting
flowers and logos of various sports teams."
It further states, "The flag rule
is incapable of being enforced in the courts of this state, since such
enforcement would involve state action triggering plaintiff's rights under
the First Amendment, as incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment of the
United States Constitution."
"This case raises no less a question
than whether public policy, as embodied in our federal and state constitutions,
our state statutes and laws, and the very principles that separate us from
other nations, protects the rights of a mother to show support for her
son in the face of draconian rules by which the country club association
seeks to silence her," the suit states.
Cross told me that his client is
just a good American mother attempting to show support for her son.
"Her flag isn't cluttering up the
subdivision," the attorney said. "It's amazing that we have to do this
so she can fly that flag."
The registered agent for the Wesmere
Country Club Association couldn't be reached for comment.