The Utah House of Representatives passed a bill to create a Utah state flag task force and designate a flag commemorating the 125th anniversary of Utah’s statehood in the final days of the legislative session.
The task force will undertake a potential redesigning of the Utah state flag and make Jonathan Martin’s flag design from the Organization for a New Utah Flag the commemorative flag for Utah’s 125th anniversary.
Martin and his father, Richard Martin, created the Organization for a New Utah Flag in 2017 and have been trying for three years in the Utah Legislature to replace the current Utah state flag with their design.
With the flag as the commemorative Utah flag, Jonathan Martin said he hopes eventually the flag could become the official state flag.
This year their efforts finally paid off on March 4 when the House voted 49-23 in favor of the bill, SB48. Shortly after, the bill passed concurrence.
“To feel like we have given something to Utah, that means a lot to me,” Jonathan Martin said.
Originally from Texas, Jonathan Martin is very proud to live in Utah now and thinks it is so special he got to contribute something that has a lasting history and legacy to Utah.
For him, “Texas is in the heart, but Utah is in the soul.”
Jonathan Martin said his design has seven points of story and symbolism in it on significant aspects and features of Utah that sets it apart from other flags. Not only does the flag tell the history and heritage of Utah, “the flag is a part of Utah history now,” he said.
The flag has symbols for the transcontinental railroad, Utah’s motto “Industry”, the red rocks of Southern Utah, the snowy mountains, the Great Salt Lake, Utah’s statehood and the Native Indigenous tribes.
Richard Martin said this commemorative flag is the only thing the Utah Legislature is doing to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Utah’s statehood. He said their design is timeless and will last for years to come.
Jonathan Martin said although he hopes his flag becomes the official state flag, he still supports the task force process. He said he is excited to see what happens next and “this design could inspire something that is just as incredible.”
Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, sponsor of the bill, said he is “excited to capture the hearts and imagination of Utah as we work together to design a flag for the next generation.”
According to Jonathan Martin, Gov. Spencer Cox really likes the commemorative flag design and especially the beehive stamp in the center of it. Martin also said Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, already has a flag hung in his office and Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, has one hanging in his doorway.
Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, told Jonathan Martin when this bill passed, it was one of the happiest moments in his career in regards to passing a bill.
“It’s already making a lot of people happy,” Jonathan Martin said.
Compared to normal, “boring” bills about taxes, government funds and legal adjustments, Richard Martin said having a fun and interesting bill like this is exciting. He enjoyed seeing the senators and representatives “see something they love” and “get behind it.”
In the days leading up to the final vote, Jonathan Martin said he was very worrisome and didn’t sleep much at night. Even though he was pretty sure the bill would pass, he was worried about potential challenges that could pop up.
“I knew it was coming, but until it’s official you’re always on pins and needles,” he said.
Richard Martin said even as recently as Monday, March 1, he felt like there were still roadblocks in the way to get the bill passed. But now, all he feels is relief.
“Right now feels so good,” he said. “It feels like (we) snatched victory from defeat.”
One such obstacle occurred a few days prior to the bill’s passing when some representatives brought up concerns of the flag being affiliated with DezNat, an unofficial, controversial Twitter community.
Before the bill passed, Jonathan Martin said he was not concerned about the affiliation with DezNat because it was such a small amount of people who appropriated the flag in Twitter memes and a Facebook post. Martin reached out to the DezNat Facebook page to take down the post and the page’s moderators complied.
Jonathan Martin never received a response to his request for a DezNat Instagram page to change its profile picture which is currently a variation of his central beehive symbol but with a white background and red star.
The group commonly uses the blue and white Deseret Nation flag instead for its community, so the connection was not enough to cause concern, allowing the bill to still pass through the House.