Main | Wednesday, June 23, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS: Anti-Gay Activists Given OK To Proselytize At Pride Festival

Twin Cities Pride is warring with the Minneapolis parks department over the decision to allow anti-gay activists on the grounds of their Pride festival, where the husband and wife team of Brian and Lois Johnson is expected to attempt to hand out bibles and shout about Jeebus.
Festival organizers say they paid ten of thousands of dollars to secure the park for this weekend’s celebration, giving them a right to control the message of the event. The park board has given the OK to Brain and Lois Johnson to distribute the Bibles, saying it is merely standing up for free speech. “The park board’s decision is akin to allowing the Klu Klux Klan to openly convey their racist and anti-immigration views at the Cinco de Mayo festival,” said Eileen Scallen, an attorney for the Pride Festival and a professor at William Mitchell College of Law. Pride officials say they will seek a federal injunction Wednesday to prevent the Johnsons from handing out books and anti-gay literature within Loring Park during the festival. They gave the park board until Tuesday evening to reverse the decision to allow the Johnsons in the park.
The Johnsons are being backed by the Alliance Defense Fund, which has defended many similar cases around the country. The ADF says it will sue Minneapolis if their clients are banned from the park. Last year the Johnsons were arrested for trespassing at the festival, but the city later dropped the charges.

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