The ACLU is suing a Colorado subdivision because it could be violating the free speech rights of a gay man who wants to fly a rainbow flag.
The suit, filed in federal court, accuses Whispering Pines Metropolitan District #1 in Arapahoe County of violating David Pendery’s constitutional rights when it sent him a letter last summer telling him that his rainbow flag was against their rules, even though other houses in the subdivision were able to fly other flags, like the American flag.
“I’m gonna fly a Pride flag,” Pendery told KDVR. “I’m a gay man with a family here. What’s wrong with flying a Pride flag? I’ve never lived in a neighborhood where that was an issue before.”
The subdivision also didn’t like a sign that he had up that read, “In this house, we believe Black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, kindness is everything.”
He was able to fly the flag last year after some “back and forth” with the subdivision, but that approval expired on December 31, 2020. If he’s in violation of the rules, the subdivision has the power to impose fines and place a lien on his home.
He would have had to submit a request to fly it again this year, but he refused and now he’s suing. The ACLU argues that the subdivision’s rules violate both the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees as well as freedom of expression protected by the Colorado constitution.
“ACLU’s lawsuit asserts that the rules in Whispering Pines violate the First Amendment in two ways,” the ACLU said in a statement. “First, in distinguishing between flags or signs that are automatically allowed and ones that are prohibited absent approval, the rules discriminate on the basis of the message that the sign or flag communicates.”
“Second, when residents are required to seek approval for a sign or a flag, the Metro District has no written guidelines to prevent decisions from being based inappropriately on the message or the viewpoint expressed.”
“We love the neighborhood, we love the make up of it,” Pendery said. “It’s up high on a hill, great mountain views.”
In a statement, he said that he and his family “immediately felt at home” when they moved in last year and they like their neighbors.
“But it’s incredibly disheartening that the governing body whose primary responsibility is to protect residents’ investments instead chooses to focus its limited resources on violating our right to free speech.”