Homeowner Association Won't Budge in Laveen Flap Over Gadsden Flag

If you don't like rules, you shouldn't have moved in.

That's the message, roughly speaking, from a Laveen homeowner's association in regards to its ban on the historical, "Don't Tread on Me" Gadsden flag.

Following our article yesterday about Andy McDonel, the non-Tea-Party member who likes flying the snake, we received an open letter to the press by a lawyer hired by the Avalon Village Community Association.

The lawyer, Javier Delgado, takes a strict interpretation of the state law we discussed yesterday which prohibits HOAs from stopping residents from flying the U.S. flag or flags of the various armed services branches.

History shows that the Gadsden flag -- or, at least, the rattlesnake-and-motto logo -- was used on occasion by the Navy and Marine Corps. True, that was more than 200 years ago, and the flag takes on a different, more rebellious connotation these days. But it's unclear whether the State Legislature meant only the most current versions of military flags could be flown.

Delgado writes that there are "many historical flags" not mentioned in the state law that can be legally restricted by HOAs. If and when state lawmakers include the Gadsden specifically in the statute, McDonel will be free to fly it, he states.

Lastly, Delgado not-so-gently scolds McDonel and anyone else who thinks they can tell an HOA what to do:

Bottom-line, anyone considering residing in a community association should carefully review the association's governing documents beforehand to ensure that the community is a good fit for them.


As we mentioned yesterday, the ACLU is reviewing McDonel's case out of concern that free-speech rights are being violated. No word yet on whether the ACLU will take any legal action on behalf of McDonel.

In the meantime, we noticed through a Google search that a nearly identical case has cropped up in Thornton, Colorado. The neighboring state even has a law just like Arizona's that allows other military flags. Like McDonel, the homeowner in the other case denies being connected to the Tea Party in any way.

Unless someone changes the law, it looks like the rattlesnakes are going to get stomped on.

Click here to read Delgado's letter. 

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.