BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Update: Jennifer Raymond told Channel 9's Jeff Deal Thursday that the president and vice president of the HOA went to her home and apologized for what happened and that the flag can stay up as long as she wants.
Robert Kelso, Vice President of the HOA said in an email, I thank you for contacting me this afternoon, as I and the rest of the Ashwood Lakes Homeowners Association, were unaware of the erroneous assertions of one of our ARC committee members. Board members contacted the property owner and his tenants to inform them that the rainbow flag is both acceptable to the board and welcome in Ashwood Lakes. Appropriate steps are underway to prevent a similar recurrence in the future."
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A rainbow flag has created controversy in a Brevard County neighborhood -- so much so that one HOA representative compared it to the Confederate flag.
A renter in Rockledge's Ashwood Lakes subdivision said she was told to lower a gay pride flag after having flown it for two years.
"It's a symbol of acceptance, tolerance and equality," said Jenifer Raymond, a mother of three. "They're saying it's offensive. To me, that's like saying I'm offensive because I exist."
Raymond said her landlord received an email from a member of the neighborhood's architectural review committee, saying only American, state or military flags may be flown.
When it was pointed out that the community bylaws don't mention flags, the member cited part of the "ground maintenance section," saying it was deemed offensive and detrimental to the subdivision.
"Allowing the flag to be flown is setting a precedence for other homeowners to fly other offensive flags -- for example, the Confederate flag," the email said.
Raymond said she was astonished by the email.
"The Confederacy supported slavery," she said. "(The rainbow flag is) a symbol of equality and acceptance of all."
Other flags were spotted in the subdivision, including one depicting a flower, a Florida Gators flag and a Thin Blue Line flag, which is flown in support of law enforcement officers.
Those homeowners said they've never been asked to remove their flags.
An HOA attorney said if bylaws don't specifically limit flags and other flags are allowed, that could be considered discrimination.
"I'm not asking you to agree with me," Raymond said. "I'm asking you to respect my rights the same as yours."
Her landlord told her to continue flying the flag.
Channel 9's Jeff Deal visited the board member's nearby home and emailed him, seeking a response, but he hasn't heard back.
Another member of the committee, who's also an HOA board member, said he was unaware of the email. He said the member who wrote it doesn't speak on behalf of the HOA, and he said he'll look into the matter.
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