Last year, Ohio was shocked to learn that residents somehow lost their right to fly Old Glory if they were merely renting a house or apartment. But now, the Ohio House of Representatives has moved to remedy that problem by passing a law allowing renters to fly the American flag at their homes.
House Bill 18, passed this week, prohibits landlords from banning American flags, military and government service flags, as well as the POW/MIA flag.
The new law came about in response to the plight of an 86-year-old woman who was told by her landlord that she wasn’t allowed to fly the American flag from the porch of her rented home.
The elderly woman, Julia Lease of Whitehall, Ohio, made news last year after the media reported that her landlord had left her a note demanding that she remove the flag. Her reply of “not on your life” reverberated around the Buckeye State and the country.
The landlord’s company defended itself saying that it was a “neutral” policy that maintained that all flags were prohibited so as not to offend people who wanted to fly the flags of other nations just as some flew the U.S. flag.
“Ultimately,” the company claimed, “the issue is that if you allow a display of something–from our point of view, from a fair-housing perspective–you’d have to allow a display of anything. The company also insisted they are “not against American flags, nor do they have any policy against American flags.”
But the tenant was adamant that her flag remain. “It means to me that I live in a country worth fighting for,” she said. “It belongs up.”
In the end, the company bowed to pressure and let the woman keep her flag.
And now, the state is taking action to make sure Mrs. Lease and all other renters are given the right to fly Old Glory.
“We must protect our First Amendment rights and this bill does exactly that,” Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miami Township) told WBNS TV. “Patriotic Americans should be able to display flags on their homes and I am proud to have voted for this bill.”
The next stop for the bill is the Ohio Senate.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at email@example.com.