BARTLETT, Tenn. — Leaders in a Memphis suburb are backing down after a homeowner claimed the city targeted him for his sexual orientation.
Nick Toombs said the City of Bartlett asked him to remove his Pride Month decorations from his front yard.
Toombs’s house is becoming a viral sensation.
He said originally, the city told him his two tall gay pride flags and an inflatable rainbow had to go. But his neighbors are showing up to show their support.
“So I saw the rainbow and just thought it would be a great thing for Pride month for June,” Toombs told FOX13. “I don’t see any difference between what I have in my yard, and the inflatable snowman and Santa Claus people put up for Christmas.”
Tombs said earlier this month he got an email from a Bartlett Code enforcement official that called his display illegal and said it violates the city’s sign ordinance.
“The new ordinances they were citing for commercial, not residential. Obviously, my property is not commercial, so it seems like they were stretching for something,” Toombs said.
However, Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald said the sign ordinance does apply to homeowners. But he admitted there is some confusion about the ordinance, which limits the size of signs but does not specifically refer to flags or inflatable displays.
“We looked, and it was my opinion and the opinion of my colleagues that based on the supreme court ruling, it was probably too vague,” McDonald said. “This morning, I instructed our code officials to let them know we would not be summoning him to court because we are studying it.”
Meanwhile, Toombs’s neighbors say they like his display and the message it sends.
“I think it’s great,” one neighbor told FOX13. “I don’t know why anyone would want it taken down. It makes our neighborhood stand out.”
As for Toombs, he says it’s here to stay.
“I just want to make a stand for what is right,” he said. “Because this is bigger than one person and one yard.”
The mayor said the city ordinance is now under review.
FOX13 asked if the inflatable displays around the holidays could potentially violate the city’s sign policy.
He said they’ve never had any complaints around the holidays like they had in this case, which lead them to investigate.
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