Christian yard signs commonly have the Christian symbol of the fish printed on them. For a source of evangelical custom made yard signs see below. An election sign displaying a political message created a free speech problem in Texas.
It happened in Parker County Texas. A North Texas couple is paying heavily for what they considered free speech.
Last week, a judge ordered them to pay more than $7,000 for having a yard sign in front of their home.
"I never thought in a million years this yard sign would draw this much attention," said homeowner Clara Russell. "I don't understand what the problem is."
The problems began when her husband, Johnnie, tacked a sign to a tree in front of their home in the rural Remuda Ranch Estates, west of Fort Worth.
The sign says "Wake Up America" and promotes conservative talk show host Glenn Beck's 9/12 Project. Neighbors soon started complaining it breaks the subdivision's deed restrictions banning signs.
The homeowners association sued and Parker County Justice of the Peace Lynn Marie Johnson ruled in the HOA's favor, ordering the Russells to pay close to $7,200 in attorney's fees.
"That's an incredible amount of money to me," Mrs. Russell said. "I'm really confused by it. It's difficult for me to grasp it."
She is appealing the decision. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.
The couple moved from Keller to this rural subdivision of 200 homes three years ago, partly they say, to escape HOA restrictions. They live on two acres. There are no sidewalks or storm drains in this unincorporated part of Parker County. The sign hung for months near the side of the road, on the edge of their property.
"It's a sign on a tree at the end of the day," Russell said. "I certainly didn't move out there to offend anyone."
Texas law protects yard signs that are clearly political - supporting a particular candidate or cause.
Neighbors insist the outcry had nothing to do with the sign's message, but rather in keeping the subdivision attractive.
"If people don't want deed restrictions," said the HOA president, Thomas Stewart, "51 percent of members can vote it away."
Still, he admits the board did write a policy allowing other types of yard signs, such as encouraging school spirit. The rules, he insists, are for the "uniformity and betterment of the community."
Russell sees a double standard. She can't understand why some yard signs are allowed but not hers.
"It just represents liberty," she said. "I can't see where that would be offensive to anyone."
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