Court says 'gay' rights trump Christian rights
A federal appeals court has ruled the First Amendment rights of homosexuals at Philadelphia's taxpayer-funded "Outfest" celebration in 2004 trumped the First Amendment rights of Christians, and has dismissed the civil rights complaint the Philadelphia 11 had filed. "The city has an interest in ensuring that a permit-holder can use the permit for the purpose for which it was obtained," this week's opinion from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. "This interest necessarily includes the right of police officers to prevent counter-protestors from disrupting or interfering with the message of the permit-holder."
They were jailed overnight in the case, but a judge later dismissed any criminal counts as having no basis in fact. The individuals then filed the damage lawsuit against the city.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel had concluded in dismissing the civil rights claim that a "permit" granted by the city to the homosexuals allowed police to silence the Christian activists' message on public streets.
"It is without question that Judge Stengel's decision has set a precedent to eliminate the First Amendment rights of others by citing that a 'permitting scheme' can be used by police and event organizers to 'exclude persons expressing contrary messages' in public areas and at public events," Marcavage said earlier.