An openly gay Texas judge says she was forced to take down her rainbow pride flag and other colorful materials after a local defense attorney filed a complaint, comparing the symbol to a swastika and Confederate flag.
Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez told NBC News that she was investigated by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and ordered to remove the flag, eyeglasses and a mouse pad with rainbow patterns, as well as a colorful Mexican cloth called a sarape.
“It felt like they were trying to shame me and bully me into not expressing who I truly am,” Gonzalez told NBC in an interview published Tuesday. “It felt like a kick in the gut.”
The Mexican American judge, who presides over Bexar County Court 13 in San Antonio, blasted the situation as xenophobic, gender-based discrimination, adding that other county judges are allowed to display an Irish flag or wear a camouflage robe in the courtroom.
She also said that the incident feels personal and could harm her potential to make a living in the future.
“If you don’t tell them to take their rainbows down, then it’s not about the rainbow, it’s about me,” Gonzalez said.
Defense attorney Flavio Hernandez confirmed that he filed the complaint to the state agency in August.
He told NBC News that he was “grieved” when “confronted by a rainbow flag prominently displayed” in Gonzalez’s courtroom and concerned that he or his clients could face “implied authority of this unofficial flag symbolizing the Judge’s personal bias.”
“Other flags expressing personal bias such as white supremacy (swastikas), or black slavery (confederacy) are also divisive and inappropriate symbols in our courtrooms,” Hernandez said in a written statement to the outlet. “I may not be able to turn the dark tide of legalized immorality infecting our nation like a virus, but in my small way, I voiced my support of traditional American family values.”
Hernandez argued in his motion that Gonzalez’s courtroom conduct is “extremely repugnant” and that the judge’s rainbow flag violates the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.
It goes on to state that the judge "abuses her power and office in causing all citizens under her influence, including our citizens who do not share her views, to submit themselves to the symbol of her preferred sexual orientation."
Last month, the commission ruled in Hernandez’s favor. Gonzalez filed a letter of appeal last week and blasted the decision as “homophobia in its most transparent, clear definition.”
The Hill has reached out to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for comment.
Gonzalez was one of the historic number of LGBTQ candidates who ran for office in Texas during the 2018 election cycle.
The rainbow flag, a gift from a local LGBTQ organization when she was sworn in, now hangs outside of her chamber doors.
“I carry a lot of pride on my shoulders from the LGBT community to have me up on the bench,” she told NBC News. “It was important to the community for me to be there and to have that visibility.”