McLean Couple Fights Condo Board for Right to Fly American Flag

Woman and U.S. Marine fiance have started a petition on change.org to fight back. What do you think? Weigh in with your opinion.

A McLean couple who want to fly an American flag outside their home is fighting a homeowner association rule in McLean with a petition. Patch archive photo
A McLean couple who want to fly an American flag outside their home is fighting a homeowner association rule in McLean with a petition. Patch archive photo
It seems like a simple thing, flying an American flag to show your patriotism, but across the country, homeowner associations have rules that residents agree to follow.

But in some places, like Jacksonville, Fla., a veteran is at odds with his homeowner association and is being asked to pay an $8,000 fine over a fight to fly Old Glory in his front yard.

And in McLean, Debbie Sunga and her fiance U.S. Marine Paolo Advincula, are fighting their HOA at The Rotunda condominium building, where they've been told to take down an American flag and a Marine flag, according to a report by WTOP.

They're not taking the news sitting down. They've started a petition and are gathering signatures on change.org: "Let Us Fly the American Flag" and Sunga hopes to deliver it to the condo association meeting in July.

So far, the petition has 25 supporters and more may be on the way. Sunga says that Advincula is being interviewed Friday by WUSA-9, a DC TV station.

Here's the petition:

Schools display it…

Businesses display it…

Even some churches display it. ..

It’s the American flag.

THE unifying symbol of the United States of America. 

A symbol that all Americans – no matter what color, creed, or ethnic background – pledge their allegiance to.  

I have one sitting on top of the bookcase in my office right now.

It’s my constitutional right—and my unerring patriotism—to display it.

Yet, in many condominium associations this right is being taken away from residents.

Like at the Rotonda Condos at Greensboro Drive in McLean Virginia.

My fiancé, a Marine Corps. veteran, was just asked to take down the American flag (and his Marine Corps. flag) from our balcony.

When he spoke to the director of security, the director stated that our condo association's bylaws prohibit the flying of any flags-- especially because “this is an international community and residents might be offended.”

You mean residents who live on American soil might be offended at the sight of the American flag?

If there’s anything offensive, it’s asking a combat veteran…a law abiding citizen…a proud American…to take the American flag down.

We live in Virginia:

The same state where the first American settlement was founded;

The same state that has been dubbed “the birthplace of a nation;”

The same state that sits right next to our Nation’s Capital and houses the CIA and Quantico;

 On January 3rd 2006, the United States Congress passed an important Act that hits at our constitutional right for “freedom of speech.” It’s called “The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005.”

The Act states: that a condominium, cooperative or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy or enter into any agreement that would restrict or prevent a member from displaying the flag of the United States.

Clause: this act does, however, contain limitations to protect condominium associations in some instances.

Many of us take this constitutional right – this legally bound law—for granted until it’s taken away.

Please sign this petition and help us fly the American flag—not just on the 4th of July; not just on Veterans Day; but on every day of the year.

 Freedom to Display the American Flag Act

Debbie Ann June 29, 2014 at 05:21 PM
On a personal note: Paolo and I respect rules and authority. But that doesn't mean we accept injustice blindly. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote to the Rotonda Board: Please forgive me for being blunt: but justifying something that is inherently wrong or fallible because “it’s a rule,” is one of the laziest ways of thinking. Human beings make rules. But human beings are fallible. And lazy thinking prevents change, reform, and progress. As we all know, the United States of America was built on change, reform, and progress...and on the backs of hardworking people...and on valiant military service like Paolo's and that of other service members like him. And please remember this: Just because something is a “rule,” that does not automatically make it right… United States, Year 1700: human slavery is a legal institution United States, 1787: African Americans are three-fifths of a person United States, Early 1900’s: women do not have the right to vote Rules mean nothing if they hinder rather than help.
Ernie Schuyler June 29, 2014 at 05:35 PM
I'm glad that you're aware of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act, Debbie ... and Virginia has followed suit, too ... our Condominium Act includes similar language ... so the Rotonda HAD to permit you to fly the American flag ... it is too bad that they do have the right (which they've apparently exercised) to prevent you from displaying the Marine Corps flag ... oh well ... on the other hand, they allow the Marine Corps flag, and who knows what flags others will want to fly ... two things I don't understand: (1) why you say, in your change.org petition that the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act "hits at our constitutional right for 'freedom of speech'" ... to me, "hits at" implies LIMITS our constitutional right ... the Act SUPPORTS your constitutional right ... even if only in one very limited area, and (2) the individuals who said things like "Sorry, but rules are rules" ... clearly they were not aware of the Federal and State laws governing the subject ... I'd be embarrassed to shoot my mouth off on anything without researching it first ... apparently, not everyone has the same inhibitions ... another "oh well"
Debbie Ann June 29, 2014 at 05:47 PM
Ernie, you're a writer after my own heart! :) thank you for your commendations. Paolo and I fully understand taking down the Marine Corps flag because as Andrea (?) pointed out before, then we enter murky waters of what else we can fly. Who knows, maybe they'll expand the law one day to include American military banners. In my change.org petition perhaps I used a vague colloquial phrase when i said "hits at." I did mean "support." I meant to say "hits at" like "hits at the core." You're right! That's my syntactical error. Thank you again! And you're right again about those who are quick to say "rules are rules." But you know, I'm Happy that people are at least talking about this issue as a whole. There are others who are being threatened with fines and evictions. So whatever side of the fence you fall on, that's ok!
Paolo Amado Ill Advincula June 29, 2014 at 06:22 PM
The people who are "most embarrassed for shooting their mouths off and not researching it first," is the Rotonda Board! That's what happens when all you care about are "rules" and you forget all about common sense and an intrinsic sense of right and wrong.
Chris July 01, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Shame on the Rotunda for even going there in the first place. It disgusts me that this association has the idiocy to even consider such an absurd rule in the first place. We need MORE American flags flying in this country and MORE patriotism. No other country would tolerate any foreigners or citizens complaining about their home flag and if anyone comes here to live and enjoy the USA, prosper here and benefit from the freedoms our military has fought for then they need to leave and quit being citizens. They are simply traitors. It is pathetic that the managemrnt of this association even entertained the idea and they should be replaced because obviously they have poor judgement. And to suggest that especially to a Marine is offensive. The Marine who sacrifices his life to ensure our freedoms. Next thing you know some idiot will protest the 4th of July. This country has gone south since that traitor in office lied and took his oath. The decline in patriotism and appreciation for our freedoms has never been lower and that has trickled down from the top. People who are not even citizens act like their "rights" trump our citizens and there is this sense of entitlement with no sacrifice that prevails. Well dummies. How do you think we have gotten our freedoms? Our American flag is everything. 2016 can't get here soon enough. And the Marine flag? Excuse me but our military is what has kept our nation safe. We should honor their flags as well. Thank you for your service btw!


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