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Texas Judge Forced to Remove Rainbow Flag from Courtroom

May 6th, 2020

An openly gay Texas judge was recently forced to remove a rainbow flag from her courtroom after a local defense attorney complained about bias.
An openly gay Texas judge was recently forced to remove a rainbow flag from her courtroom after a local defense attorney complained about bias.

Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez, an openly gay San Antonio-based judge, was recently forced to remove the rainbow flag and other rainbow materials from her courtroom after defense attorney Flavio Hernandez filed a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. According to the attorney, the rainbow flag is no different from a swastika or Confederate flag, and symbolized the judge’s personal bias.

The Rainbow Flag at the Center of the Controversy

Judge Gonzalez was among several openly LGBTQ candidates to seek office in the 2018 election, and the rainbow flag was a gift from a local LGBTQ organization. Along with the flag, the judge also had a set of rainbow glasses and a mouse pad. According to the attorney, he was “grieved” when confronted with the rainbow flag in the courtroom and worried about the judge’s impartiality when representing his clients before the court. He further opined that “other flags expressing personal bias such as white supremacy (swastikas), or black slavery (confederacy) are also divisive and inappropriate symbols in our courtrooms.”

The Judge’s Response

Judge Gonzalez, a Mexican American, said she was forced to remove the rainbow flag, eyeglasses, mouse pad, and even a colorful Mexican sarape from her courtroom. “It felt like they were trying to shame me and bully me into not expressing who I truly am,” she expressed. She views the situation as a perfect example of xenophobic and gender-based discrimination, since other county judges are allowed to display Irish flags and even wear camouflage robes in their courtrooms. “If you don’t tell them to take their rainbows down, then it’s not about the rainbow, it’s about me,” she said.

History of the Rainbow Flag

The rainbow flag has been a universal symbol of LGBTQ pride and equality since the late 1970s, and was previously used as a symbol of peace. The different colors are supposed to represent the great diversity of the LGBTQ community, and there are many other flags for specific identities within the larger community. The flag can be an outward symbol of identity, but also a means of showing support for the equal dignity of all human beings regardless of the specific identity of the person displaying it. Indeed, many businesses and individuals display the flag to express their support for social equality for the LGBTQ community, especially during the traditional pride month of June. The White House was even illuminated in rainbow colors back in June of 2015 to commemorate the Supreme Court’s decision allowing LGBTQ people to get married nationwide.

The Commission’s Decision

In March, the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct ruled in favor of the attorney, forcing the judge to remove the rainbow flag and other items from her courtroom. However, she is currently appealing the decision, and called the decision “homophobia in its most transparent, clear definition.” She went on to explain “she wants the pride flag to show LGBTQ community members that they are welcome to have their day in court and seek justice.”

Continue Reading the Universal Life Church’s Blog

LGBTQ rights have seen substantial advancements over the last couple decades, but have also experienced several setbacks in recent years. Each month, noteworthy cases influence the rights that LGBTQ individuals in this country will ultimately have. By reading the Universal Life Church’s blog, you can stay up to date with the most recent of these changes.

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