Republican Lawmaker Says He Filed Confederate Flag Legislation 'In Error'

  • Florida State Senator Jay Collins says he mistakenly filed an amendment that would allow the flying of the Confederate flag on public buildings and properties.
  • Collins has denied Confederate sympathies and the amendment has been withdrawn.
  • There are concerns similar legislation would prevent the flying of Pride flags from governmental buildings in the state.

A Republican lawmaker in Florida has said he filed "in error" an amendment that would allow the flying of the Confederate flag.

State Senator Jay Collins shared a statement to Twitter on Wednesday, attributed to spokesperson Ted Veerman, which strongly denied that the retired U.S. Army Green Beret was a "confederate sympathizer."

The statement added that the legislation had been withdrawn.

The Confederate flag is seen by many as a symbol of slavery and racism as it was used by the Confederate States during the U.S. Civil War of 1861 to 1865.

Collins had filed in the state senate an amendment, SB 668, that provided a list of flags that would be permitted to be displayed by Florida's governmental entities, such as counties, special districts, departments and public schools.

The legislation said government entities "may expose to public view only the following flags in and on the grounds of public buildings and other public properties".

The list included the "flag of the Confederate States," as well as U.S., state, county, and Olympic flags, as well as those of the military and foreign nations, among others.

A Confederate Flag in Loxahatchee, Florida
A Confederate flag flies during a rally on July 11, 2015, in Loxahatchee, Florida. A Florida lawmaker has said legislation that would have allowed the flying of the Confederate flag on state buildings had been filed "in error." Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In the statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Senator Collins' spokesperson said the draft amendment had been filed by mistake and had subsequently been withdrawn.

"Jay Collins is an American patriot who personally sewed his arm back together on the battlefield in Afghanistan as he was hemorrhaging blood along with losing his leg due to injuries sustained in active combat in defense of the flag of the United States of America," the statement said.

"Any insinuation that Jay is a confederate sympathizer is disgusting," the statement went on, adding: "This amendment draft was filed in error and has already been pulled as we work to ensure the wording of our bill is in line with the state constitution and statute, which is what created this issue in the first place."

SB 668 does not specifically mention the rainbow Pride flag or other LGBTQ symbols. A similar bill introduced in the Florida House, HB 1011, also excludes LGBTQ flags from its list of approved flags.

There are concerns that the proposed legislation would prevent the flying of Pride flags by governmental entities in the state. Referring to HB 1011, Maxx Fenning, president of LGBTQ advocacy group PRISM, told the Miami New Times last month: "At first glance, this feels like a no-brainer that this is directed at pride flags."

Fenning added: "We see continuous attacks on efforts to erase us, marginalized people, our community, and to write us out of existence."

There has also been significant controversy over Florida's Parental Rights in Education legislation, which was signed into law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and has been dubbed "Don't Say Gay" by critics.

The legislation prohibits "classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner."

Newsweek has reached out to Senator Jay Collins' office via email for comment.