An Arizona man is in trouble with his homeowners' association over flying the Gadsden flag, which features a coiled rattlesnake and the words "Don't Tread on Me."
The flag has been adopted by members of the tea party movement for its association with the American Revolution, but Andy McDonel tells the New York Times that he has hung the flag from his roof simply for its historical significance.
Watch a report on the dispute from Fox News:
Arizona has a state statute that allows Arizonans to fly "the Stars and Stripes, the state flag, flags representing Indian nations as well as the official flags of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard," the Times reports.
McDonel's homeowners' association is strictly interpreting that law to ban the flying of any other flags, including the Gadsden. The American Civil Liberties Union is defending McDonel, saying the homeowners' group is taking too strict a view of the statute and restricting McDonel's right to free speech.
McDonel is chronicling his struggle on a blog, where he is asking for donations for a potential legal battle.
McDonel isn't the only person to run into a dispute over the historic flag.
Eric Smith of Thornton, Colo., said he and his neighbor were sent a letter by their homeowners' association that said "Tea Party flags are not permitted. Please Remove." They were threatened with a $100-a-month fine for flying the Gadsden flag.
Colorado has a statute similar to Arizona's that specifies which flags are allowed to be flown. The homeowners' association eventually reversed its demand, saying his flag fell into the category of "political signs" instead of flags and was thus allowed.
Meanwhile, a group of retired Marines in Connecticut is fighting for the flag to be flown over the state Capitol, after the Capitol police denied their request because the flag is not the official Marines flag.
"I'd learned about in the Marine Corps. It's one of the first, if not the first, Marine Corps flag," retired Marine Patrick Rubino told FoxNews.com. "They even flew it over our bases in Afghanistan and Iraq while I was there."
In March, House Republicans created a stir amid the hard-fought vote on health care reform by grabbing a Gadsden flag from the anti-reform crowd assembled outside the Capitol and brandishing it from within the building.
The flag is named after Col. Christopher Gadsden, a Continental Congress delegate from South Carolina. The flag was flown by the Navy in 1775 -- but owes its design to the famous "Join or Die" icon that Benjamin Franklin created in the 1750s to promote unity among American colonists. And that message seems more remote than ever, with contemporary political insurgents, colonial history buffs, state legislatures and civil liberties advocates all battling over the image's contested symbolic meaning.
(Photo of the Gadsden flag at an April protest of health care reform: AP)
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