Milwaukee Gay couple faced eviction for flying a gay pride flag outside their apartment
Written by ZenKC on April 10, 2019
An Oak Creek couple on March 25 was told to remove their gay pride flag from outside their apartment by the property owner — a request that was later rescinded.
However, the couple on April 3 found the flag pulled down by someone else.
Merle Malterer and Kevin Kollmann live in the Country Oaks Apartments, 8748 S. Country Drive. They received a note about two weeks ago from the property owners, Milwaukee-based Bieck Management, to remove a rainbow flag, signifying gay pride, outside their home.
The men said they planned to send a response letter to management opposing the notice. However, they subsequently found a note taped to their door which said the company would be coming up with a new flag policy — and invited the men to participate in the discussion — but would grandfather their flag in regardless.
After the issue got some media attention, the Oak Creek couple found their flag torn down.
“We put it right back up and called the Oak Creek police,” Kollmann said.
Despite this, the two men said they don’t feel unsafe.
“The people who try and start things are the cowards,” Malterer said, adding that often those people don’t know what the flag means.
Bieck Management did not respond to a request for comment.
A surprise eviction notice
Bieck management in January reached out to the couple about a Green Bay Packers flag they were flying. However, in response to the gay pride flag — an American flag with rainbow stripes instead of red and white — the couple received a five-day eviction notice ordering them to take it down.
The flag had been up for about three weeks prior to the notice, and they said they switched out different flags but had flown a gay pride flag in the past. Additionally, both said they’d seen several other tenants flying various flags at the apartment complex.
The couple has lived in their apartment for over five years with no other problems.
Kollmann said he thinks Bieck Management’s change of heart came due to the community response.“(The property owner) didn’t realize how big the gay community is in Milwaukee,” Kollmann said, adding that he thought this decision could filter down to any other Bieck Management properties.
Additionally, he said most of their neighbors told the couple they support them, including one neighbor who said they planned to purchase a similar flag and fly it at their unit.
While this issue focused on the LGBTQ community, Kollmann said it was bigger than that.
“It could be anything, a police flag, a fire flag, it brought a good understanding to the community,” he said. “We have to be true to who we are.”
Malterer said he received responses to their story from around the globe. He also praised the complex itself.
“It’s an affordable and nice complex, and (the owner) shouldn’t be alienating people who pad his bottom line,” he said.
Both said they are happy management worked with them and they have no malice against Bieck Management.
“We just want people to stand up for their rights,” Kollmann said. “You can’t be selectively enforcing rules on anybody.”