Metro Weekly

Wisconsin gay couple facing eviction for flying rainbow flag

Couple claim they are being discriminated against for flying a rainbow LGBTQ pride flag

Kevin Kollman outside his apartment — Photo: WBBH

A Wisconsin gay couple claim they are potentially facing eviction for flying an LGBTQ Pride flag in their apartment complex.

Kevin Kollman and Merle Malterer received a five-day eviction notice on Wednesday, March 27, from the owner of Country Oaks Apartments in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

The letter from Bleck Management, which owns their apartment, said that the couple had breached a clause in their lease covering the physical appearance of the property.

According to the letter: “Tenant shall not, without permission, in the building rules or specific written approval of landlord, physically alter or redecorate the premises, cause any contractor’s lien to attach to the premises, commit waste to the premises or the property of which it is part, or attach or display anything which substantially affects the exterior of the premises or the property of which it is part.”

NBC News reports that the couple removed a Green Bay Packers flag from their apartment in January after Bleck Management objected to it appearing to advertise for the team.

However, when asked to remove their rainbow flag, styled like the United States flag, the couple took to social media to complain about “selective prosecution.”

The couple argue that other properties in the complex have American and police pride flags on display, and haven’t been served similar takedown notices.

“My flag is not doing anything,” Kollman told NBC News. “It’s just a symbol of who we are, where we came from and our love for the United States.”

Speaking to NBC affiliate WBBH, Kollman said the couple have lived in the complex for six years.

“This is who I am, this is who we are,” he said, adding, “Personally, I feel like we’re being kind of singled out here because it’s what it is.”

Local media contacted Bleck Management, who confirmed that the couple was asked to remove the Green Bay Packers flag and said that the issue was one of property appearance.

However, another resident said that he had never been asked to remove flags from his apartment.

“”I’ve never been told to take them down,” Ken Miller told WBBH. “I’ve been here for three years, and I’ve had these flags up for at least two years and I’ve never had any issues with the flags.”

Kollman and Malterer reportedly spoke with Kenneth Bleck, executive officer of Bleck Management, who told the couple that he wanted the flag removed because it was visible from their office.

Speaking to WBBH, Bleck added that he didn’t want to evict the couple — despite serving them five days notice — and that he’d be willing to discuss the matter further with them.

Kollman and Malterer are now seeking legal advice, and looking to take further action.

“My big thing is this: I’m not going to be bullied at 52 years of age, neither is my partner,” Kollman told NBC News. “We’re not going to be told we’re not in compliance with our legal right under the First Amendment.”

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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