Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) today introduced the Blue Star/Gold Star Flag Act of 2011, legislation to protect military families' right to honor the service of their loved ones.
The Department of Defense has authorized the Blue and Gold Star flag, also known as the Service flag, to be flown by the immediate family members of those serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during a period of war or hostilities. Each blue star on the flag represents a family member currently serving, and each gold star represents a family member who lost his or her life in combat.
The Senators' bill would prohibit any condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association from preventing a resident from displaying the Service flag on personal residential property.
"This legislation creates reasonable legal protections to ensure military families can honor their loved ones' service, no matter where they live," said Senator Webb. "I urge my Senate colleagues to join me in demonstrating our continued commitment to our men and women in uniform and their families."
"There should never be an instance where the family of a service member serving overseas or of a fallen service member cannot honor him or her by displaying a Blue or Gold Star flag, both of which have long had a place in American tradition," McCaskill said. "This bill makes sure that families will never be denied the right to display the small symbol of a Service Flag that honors the heroism of those they care so deeply about."
The Blue Star/Gold Star Flag Act was inspired, in part, by Marlene Gano of Canton, Ohio, who was asked by her condominium association to remove the Service flag she placed in her window in honor of her son who served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and again in 2003 for his year-long service in Iraq, where he suffered injuries twice from roadside bombs. While her condominium association later made an exception for the Blue Star Flag, Ms. Gano's case and other similar cases demonstrate the need for the legal protections this legislation would provide.
Senator Webb previously introduced the Blue Star/Gold Star Flag Act of 2010 (S.3477) in the 111th Congress, and the House of Representatives passed companion legislation on May 20, 2010.
Senator Webb, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and as chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. Senator McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran, also sits on the Senate Committee on Armed Services.