AUSTIN (KXAN) — Newlywed couple David Colligan and Alonzo Rivas were beaming with pride as they hung up their colorful flag. That excitement quickly turned into shock after they received a notice from property management to take it down.
A notice from property management — which the couple shared with KXAN — states their home owner’s association only allows American, armed forces, and State of Texas flags to be hung.
The couple lives in the Town Court Condominium, which is a small neighborhood in south Austin.
“Being told that this flag doesn’t reflect integrity, and it’s something that diminishes the value of the community — is just ridiculous,” Colligan said.
The notice they received did state property management isn’t questioning the worthiness of the flag, or the message, writing it respectfully asks them to take it down. Still, the two feel the language of the notice was offensive. They also feel the HOA specifically, doesn’t understand the meaning behind the flag.
“It was compared to sports memorabilia, holiday flags and there’s a lot more resemblance behind the flag, than just a sports team,” Rivas said. “There’s been a lot of sweat, tears and even lives lost, to develop these rights.”
The husbands told KXAN they’ve rented their home for over five years, and decided this year they wanted to teach their daughters about Pride. They hung the flag as a family.
Now the couple plans on asking neighbors to sign a petition, with hopes of being able to change the rules to be more supportive and inclusive.
They have also asked for a formal review of the rules.
“We don’t have any interest in breaking the rules, but we do have interest in changing the rules,” Colligan said.
They feel it’s their duty to advocate for other LGBTQ neighbors, and educate those who they feel don’t understand what the flag truly represents.
“We’ve been nothing but great residents — we shoveled snow and ice for elders during the winter storm, we’ve baked treats for our daughters to hand out during the holidays and we are always kind during dog walks,” Colligan said. “Seems very un-Austin of a neighborhood that upholds or enforces rules that discriminate.”
The neighborhood’s HOA president, directed questions about the flag to property management. Questions about changing the rules have yet to be answered.
Per the property management’s notice, Colligan and Rivas will have until June 25 to take the flag down, or could otherwise face fines.
But they told KXAN they plan to keep their flag flying bright, in spite of the consequences.
“C’mon, it’s 2021, we need to move in the right direction,” Rivas said.