Two Williamson County justices of the peace—Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 KT Musselman in Round Rock and Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Stacy Hackenberg in Taylor—asked for the court's permission to fly the rainbow Pride flag outside of their precincts' court buildings during a June 18 meeting.
The judges also asked for permission to fly the prisoners of war/missing in action flag during the week of Veterans Day out of respect to those soldiers who have not returned from war, who were captured and held prisoner during combat, and their comrades in arms who are honored members of the community. The motion was also not approved.
The court approved only flying the U.S. flag and the Texas flag at county buildings with the exception of the Williamson County flag, which can be flown on its own pole.
"It's not a no because it’s a Pride flag or because it’s a POW flag, it's just where does the 'no' start?" County Judge Bill Gravell said.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long was not present during the meeting.
Several people spoke during the public speaking portion of the meeting.
"None of this was meant to divide but instead to unite," said Zachary Rodriguez, an Austin, Williamson County resident. "To tell these marginalized communities who are represented in every facet of your life that here, in Williamson County we see you, here in Williamson County, we respect you and here in Williamson County you are safe."
Many who opposed the flag said that both the U.S. and Texas flags inherently represent all Texans where as a rainbow flag or the POW flag only represent a subset of the population.
Autumn Reeves, a Williamson County resident, said she opposed the displaying of the flag because she didn't see its relevance in what the county represented.
"We represent our country and our state, we don't represent sexual preferences," Reeves said. "I just can't find the relevance of it being hung up because the court doesn't just represent LGBTQ."
Judge Musselman and Judge Hackenberg who both identify as LGBTQ+ argued that while both the U.S. and Texas flag represent everyone they don't represent everyone in the same way, as some people are treated more equally than others.
By displaying the rainbow and POW flag, Williamson County would be making a statement that it is a welcoming community, Hackenberg said.
"The U.S. flag represents the best hopes and dreams of humanity, that all are created equal... but all you have to do is look around this room, state and nation to know that this is not true for all of us and as long this is reality, as long as one of us are treated unjustly, none of us are free," Hackenberg said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to add more information.