Evangelical Ant-gay protest blocked

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Evangelical Ant-gay protest blocked

Christian activists vow to appeal dismissal of freedom-of-speech suit

Christian activists yesterday promised to appeal the dismissal of their federal court claim that Philadelphia officials infringed on their freedom of speech when they blocked anti-homosexual protesters at a 2004 Center City gay festival.

"This is a very shocking decision," said Michael Marcavage of Lansdowne, director of Repent America, and one of 11 protesters who were arrested at the 2004 Outfest.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel on Thursday granted a summary judgment for the city and the event organizers, Philly Pride Presents Inc.

"There is no constitutional right to drown out the speech of another person," Stengel wrote in the 52-page judgement.

The activists, whose case received extensive coverage in the Christian media, argued that the city had violated their First Amendment rights by arresting them at an event on a public street. They claimed police silenced them because of the content of their message. A city judge later dismissed the criminal charges against the 11 defendants.

Organizers of the gay-pride event initially tried to block the protesters from entering, but police escorted the activists in while attempting to confine them to the fringes. The protesters, using bullhorns and signs, were arrested after they disobeyed orders to move. Police said the crowd was threatening to get violent.

Stengel said the gay-pride event had received proper city permits, and the evangelists had neglected to take alternative means to communicate their message, including applying for a permit to hold a counterprotest. He called the activists' claims "simplistic."

Stengel's decision expands upon a 1995 Supreme Court decision that held that the Boston organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade could exclude gay protesters from a private parade on public streets. "This is an important decision that supports the First Amendment rights of organizers of all permitted events," said Jeremy D. Frey, an attorney with Pepper Hamilton L.L.P., which provided free representation to Philly Pride Presents.

Ted Hoppe, attorney for the activists, said the decision allows the government to deny free speech in public areas.

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I wonder if they'd feel the

I wonder if they'd feel the same way if there were atheist protesters at Christian events?...

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It worries me that current

It worries me that current laws are not good enough to keep the peace. There are laws against impeding another person's movement. And their are laws against disturbing the peace or advocation of crime.

This judge is wrong, if his intent is to silence "offensive" speech.

I do worry about politicall correctness and what it will do to the protection of dissent wich is the cornerstone of our Constitution. Those bigots have every right to spew their crap and their should be no abridging it by our goverment. We already have common law in place that allows both sides to counter each other in public.

This is a disturbing trend in America to me, that far too many people seek security and the worst place to find it is through goverment. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, not THOUGHT POLICE is the answer. Leading by example, not "Goverment be my baby sitter"

We all have it in us, be it the left or the right, be it the Christian or atheist, to refrain from acting out physically when we hear things we dont like.

I cant stress this enough. When the Christian or atheist or gay demands the other shut up through goverment force we all lose. Putting your individual thoughts under goverment law is and always will be a bad idea. What Evangelicals and even atheists often forget is that once you give goverment the power of censoring "offensive" things, YOU MIGHT NOT BE THE ONE IN POWER MAKING THAT DECISION. That kind of goverment power makes it easy for the ones in control at that time, to opress those in dissagreement.

It benifits no one and is a danger to all to say, "Make them shut up". Who gets to decide? If you dont want to be censored, then dont demand censorship. 




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