Florida GOP Proposal Would Ban Pride Flag—But Let Confederate Flag Fly At State Buildings


A Republican lawmaker in Florida filed legislation Tuesday exempting the Confederate flag from a broad proposal to ban most flags from being flown outside government buildings in the state—including LGBTQ pride flags—as culture war issues take the forefront at Florida’s GOP-led legislative session.

Key Facts

State Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa) filed an amendment to the flag ban bill listing the Confederate flag among 12 types of flags specifically exempted from the ban, along with the likes of the U.S. flag, state flag and flags of municipalities.

The amendment largely adds a handful of exemptions to a list previously proposed in a state House bill, which did not include the Confederate flag.

The modern use of the Confederate flag emerged as a reference to the Civil War—where it was a battle flag—and in opposition to the civil rights movement, while more recently is widely associated with white supremacist groups and right-wing extremists.

Key Background

Republican lawmakers have framed the bill as a helpful clarification to existing flag guidelines, but critics note the proposal comes after a series of controversial incidents involving pride flags. Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger notably refused calls to raise rainbow flags last June for Pride Month, saying it would pave the way for Nazis and Satanists to demand the display of their flags at public buildings. Miami-Dade County school board member Roberto Alonso also proposed prohibiting the “display of flags that promote a political issue,” in December, which came months after Sarasota County Schools ordered a teacher to take down a rainbow-colored “COEXIST” flag from his classroom, citing a ban on political activity on its campuses.

Crucial Quote

“It just clearly lines up what flags can be flown over government facilities, like the state flag, the American flag, the POW flag and our firefighter’s flag,” Collins told WFOR-TV earlier this month.

Chief Critic

Orlando Gonzales, the executive director of the Miami-based LGBTQ activist group Safeguarding American Values for Everyone, recently called the proposed flag ban “a fake, postured patriotic bill,” telling the Miami New Times, “It’s not just about what’s being emphasized but what’s being excluded.”

Surprising Fact

Florida still recognizes Confederate Memorial Day, Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Jefferson Davis’ birthday as official state holidays.

What To Watch For

Florida Republicans are also looking to pass legislation expanding the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law by applying it to charter schools and private pre-K programs and adding a provision explicitly stating school personnel and students do not have to call someone by a pronoun that doesn’t correspond to their sex at birth, among other provisions. Last year’s “Don’t Say Gay” law broadly banned discussions about “sexual orientation or gender identity” in elementary school classrooms. Florida’s legislative session continues until May 5.

Further Reading

Proposed law would ban flying LGBT flags from government buildings (WFOR-TV)

Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Into Law Despite Controversy (Forbes)

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2023/03/14/florida-gop-proposal-would-ban-pride-flag-but-let-confederate-flag-fly-at-state-buildings/