Only U.S. and Texas flags may now be displayed on Bell County facilities under a new policy approved by county officials on Monday.
Residents in the conservative Central Texas community called the move a solid win, as county commissioners responded to their requests to keep “LGBT Pride” and other divisive flags off of government buildings.
Commissioner Louie Minor, the first openly gay elected official in Bell County, stirred controversy earlier this month by hanging a “Progress Pride” flag in the window of his courthouse office, where it is visible to the public, after commissioners rejected a proposal to declare June as “LGBT Pride Month.”
At their June 26 meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 to adopt the new flag policy, which went into effect immediately. Under the amended Bell County Building and Grounds Use Policy, only the United States and Texas flags may be displayed on exterior or interior areas that are within public view.
“I still feel like all of us believe, including Commissioner Minor, that putting a flag in the window certainly makes a statement,” Commissioner Bobby Whitson said during Monday’s meeting.
“We know the statement from Bell County has not been one of approval for ‘Gay Pride,’ and yet Commissioner Minor has put that flag up in his window specifically for the purpose of people outside the building to see it,” Whitson said.
“I would just respectfully ask again that you remove the flag,” he said to Minor. “Put it in your office anywhere you want, but not for public display.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the “Pride” flag was still visible in Minor’s courthouse window.
The new flag policy also applies to the county’s Employee Handbook, which prohibits using county property for personal political purposes.
Minor and County Judge David Blackburn voted against the policy. Blackburn wanted to wait for a legal opinion from the county attorney on whether the restriction violates any federal or state law.