Last year, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill that prohibits landlords, mobile-home park operators, and condo and neighborhood associations from banning residents from displaying the American flag or military service flags. This year, Ohio legislators would like to see that law expanded to include another important symbol.
Back in May, Republican state Representatives Anne Gonzales and Tim Ginter, introduced House Bill 230 which would prevent landlords, park operators and associations from banning Thin Blue Line flags and emblems. The legislation has 38 co-sponsors, of which there are both Republicans and Democrats, and passed the House almost unanimously (90-2) in November.
For those of you who don’t know, the original Thin Blue Line emblem is a black rectangle with a thin blue line cutting through the center. The Thin Blue Line flag – also referred to as the Blue Lives Matter flag – is a black and white version of the American flag in which one of the center white stripes is dyed blue. Both the emblem and flag are often displayed by citizens to show their respect for our law enforcement officers and honor those who have fallen.
The bill has, unsurprisingly, gained support from local law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order Police of Ohio (FOP). For them, it’s simple.
“There are folks who live in these complexes who would like to show their respect,” Michael Weinman, FOP governmental affairs director, tells The Columbus Dispatch.
However, not all Ohioans see it that way.
The concept of the “Thin Blue Line” has remained controversial since the phrase gained traction in the late 1960s. Most recently, the flag has been associated with racism and hatred, especially after it was seen waving among Confederate and anti-Semitic flags at the Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. When football players at Northridge High in Ohio carried a Thin Blue Line flag onto the field during a rally the following month, it caused quite a stir. While the players saw it as a way to honor police, many other others saw it as an affront to the black community.
But regardless of how you view the Thin Blue Line flag – as a symbol of respect or as a symbol of hate – Ohioans living in rentals, mobile homes, condos, townhouses or wherever else should have the right to display it, just as they should have the right to display any other flag, sign or symbol.
While many have pointed out that the bill does not include other flags, such as a pride flag or a Black Lives Matter flag, Ginter says this legislation could inspire similar bills, adding that some of his colleagues have already begun discussing the matter. We hope he’s right and that more bills like this are headed for Kasich’s desk.