Eastland Cove, Fla., residents Mike Ferrari and Bob Plominski were surprised to find themselves embroiled in a fight with the Eastland Cove Homeowners Association in Broward County over displaying a Pride flag on their mailbox.
The men, who are a couple, have lived in the suburb of Fort Lauderdale for a decade and have over the years flown various flags, including those of political candidates, without facing any complaints from neighbors or the HOA. "We call it our little oasis," Ferrari told The New York Times.
That changed June 8, when Ferrera says they were given notice saying the flag had to be removed for violating an HOA policy that only allows for display of the U.S., Florida state, or Armed Forces flags. The notice also warned that refusal to remove the flag would lead to a fine of up to $50, followed by a daily fine of $10 if they don't comply within 30 days.
The notice was issued by HOA officials after they received a complaint about the couple's flags, which forced their hand. "We never had a complaint, and once we receive a complaint and we don't act on it, the board can get sued," said Bob Brosseau, president of the board of the Eastland Cove Homeowners Association. "Once it is brought up to the board as a complaint, we have to act on it."
While Broussard was compelled to act on the complaint, he voted against issuing the violation when the matter came in front of the board. "As a board member, I was very upset that it was even brought up," he said. "I don't have a problem with [the rainbow flag]."
As for Ferrari, he has no intention of taking down the flag, regardless of the fines. "My husband and I decided we weren't going to stand by and take down our flag because somebody, I feel, was offended by the flag in our community," he said. "Ten dollars, $50, $100 a day -- it's staying up."
Rather than back down, the men have responded by displaying additional Pride flags and even handing out small rainbow flags to neighbors who stop by in support.
Both the escalation by the couple and the increased attention on the story, which has made headlines and was reported by NBC's Miami affiliate, are exacerbating the issue, said Broussard, who prefers that it would all just blow over. "I wish it would just go under the rug and we'd live our happy lives like it never happened, but it depends on how the offender acts," he said.
Ferrari, however, has no plan for backing down, confirming that the flags would stay up until July 1. "We are standing our ground," he said. "We are not removing our flag."