TALLAHASSEE - January 29, 2002
flag bill proceeds
By JACOB OGLES
Courtesy The Daily
That Star-Spangled Banner will wave no
matter what in the state of Florida, assuming no surprise opposition blocks
the efforts of state Sen. Anna Cowin, R-Leesburg.
Quickly pressing a flag protection law
through the chambers of the Florida Legislature, Cowin is extremely optimistic
that nobody will be allowed to stop the display of the American flag.
‘Right now, you can burn a flag in this
country,” Cowin said. “You should certainly be allowed to display one in
your front yard.”
The bill was initially filed shortly after
the September 11 terrorist attacks. With patriotism surging and flags flown
in large numbers, stories began to surface in Florida that some housing
subdivisions had decided the flags were in violation of rules concerning
the outward appearance of homes. One of these subdivisions was in Marion
County, part of Cowin’s district.
After some research, Cowin found that a
prohibition of flag-flying reached beyond the front yards of senior communities.
“People put them in their yards and home-owners
associations said they couldn’t do that. People came to work with flag
pins on their lapels and their businesses said they couldn’t do that. People
put them on license plates or as bumper stickers on their car and businesses
said they couldn’t,” Cowin said.
Gov. Jeb Bush immediately made a call for
a legislative protection for the flag, and in the state Senate, Cowin filed
a bill the next day.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to fly the
flag just because it could offend somebody,” she said. “Especially right
now, people want to show that they support the Unites States of America.”
None of the housing subdivisions in Lake
County instituted a ban in flag-flying, and most said they had no problem
with Cowin’s proposed law.
“I think it’s a shame the state legislature
has to deal with this sort of activity,” said Dan Gorden, general manager
of Hawthorne at Leesburg. “This is an emotional issue for a lot of people,
especially the residents who have fought in one war or another and have
seen people die defending the flag.”
If the bill is signed into law, no prohibition
may be placed on the flying of the flag, regardless of whether a contract
is signed on the matter or not. The only exception is for instances when
the flag provides a safety risk, such as when it blocks the back window
of a car or limits visibility at a road intersection.
The bill does not affect other sign prohibition
which can be imposed in the private sector.
Cowin’s bill passed through its final committee
in the legislature Tuesday and will go to a vote on the state Senate floorat
some future time.
The state senator said the bill had faced
little opposition so far, other than regulatory questions. Not a single
vote has been cast against the proposed law so far.
“I don’t really see anybody speaking out
against this right now, when the right to fly a flag is so important,”