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  1. #1
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    ACLU of Louisiana Files Lawsuit to Protect Free Speech Rights

    ACLU of Louisiana Files Lawsuit to Protect Free Speech Rights of Christian Protestor

    FOR IMMIEDIATE RELEASE
    CONTACT: media@aclu.org



    Urges Overturning of Local Ordinance Requiring Permit for Speech
    NATCHITOCHES, LA -- Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of a lone protestor who was denied his free expression rights by the city of Natchitoches. Edwin Crayton, a devout Christian, sought to stand in front of Wal-Mart in Natchitoches with a sign protesting the corporationís alleged position on gay marriage.

    "Our government violates the principles in the First Amendment when it puts an overbroad permit scheme in place to restrain free speech in a public place," said Joe Cook, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "The sweep of the ordinance is so wide that it could encompass a chance meeting on the street corner by two strangers."

    Crayton peacefully picketed for about 40 minutes on a public sidewalk with a sign that said "Christians: Wal-Mart Supports Gay Lifestyles And Marriage. Don't Shop There." He was approached by a Natchitoches police officer who refused to allow him to continue without obtaining a permit from the city. Crayton had received permission from the chief of police to hold an "open air meeting," but he also needed permission from the Mayor. The Mayor has failed to approve Crayton's application even though it was submitted several weeks ago.

    "The right to be heard on matters of religious and political significance is at the core of our constitutional system," said Katie Schwartzmann, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Louisiana. "The city of Natchitoches has effectively silenced Mr. Crayton on what for him is an important religious issue, and this type of government censorship cannot stand unchallenged."

    The lawsuit contests not only the application of the permit requirements to Crayton, but also asks that the court declare such requisites unconstitutional. The Natchitoches city code completely forbids any public gathering, but provides exceptions for parades, or for an "open air meeting" where one has a permit.

    The ACLU successfully challenged a similar New Iberia ordinance in 2002. In that case, a lone protestor carried a sign in front of a store to protest its gun sale polices and was threatened with arrest by a police officer.

    ______________________________

    I hope I've posted this in the right place...I've never started a thread before!!
    Can a city reject to give someone a permit legally? I don't understand why people must do this anyway...just because it isn't his lifestyle doesn't make it wrong....sometimes people of the cloth are so much more judgemental...is that Christian-like? Last time I ck'd it wasn't!!!!!

  2. #2
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    I don't know what to think. He has a right to picket for his belifs just like anyone else. On the other hand, his protest pretty much is gaybashing IMO. Why not let them marry? Maybe they can do a better job at marriage than the straights have.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2sisters
    I don't know what to think. He has a right to picket for his belifs just like anyone else. On the other hand, his protest pretty much is gaybashing IMO. Why not let them marry? Maybe they can do a better job at marriage than the straights have.
    Doesn't Wal-Mart have the right to tell him to get lost?? I mean, if someone came on my property I would think that was trespassing. I guess I don't dispute him picketting (like you said, he has rights to his beliefs)...But why not do it in his own front yard??!!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by czechmate7
    Doesn't Wal-Mart have the right to tell him to get lost?? I mean, if someone came on my property I would think that was trespassing. I guess I don't dispute him picketting (like you said, he has rights to his beliefs)...But why not do it in his own front yard??!!
    Probably, thats why most protestors are usually across the street from places or at the curb. Maybe walmart called the police on him?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by czechmate7
    Doesn't Wal-Mart have the right to tell him to get lost?? I mean, if someone came on my property I would think that was trespassing. I guess I don't dispute him picketting (like you said, he has rights to his beliefs)...But why not do it in his own front yard??!!
    Crayton peacefully picketed for about 40 minutes on a public sidewalk
    I agree with the ACLU on this. The mayor's actions violate this mans' rights.

  6. #6
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    Why is it WalMart can't do anything right??...There will always be people who believe in different things. Take the gun issue....if they sell guns people are out protesting the sell of guns; if they don't sell guns the NRA is out there because they aren't selling guns..(just an example) Why do people do this???? IMO, if someone is picketing with a sign discouraging people to shop at a store because the store doesn't believe with what they believe isn't that like deflamation? I may be off base...but, that's the way I see it.
    I often wonder if people do this for possiblity of lawsuit $$$$ (but that wouldn't be Christian-like, would it?)

  7. #7
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    Most stores have rules that you can't picket in front of them. You have to ask their permission. At least here, I think they have the right to deny picketers, no matter what their cause.

    I went through that when we were trying to protest wal-mart building in our backyard. We could protest on public property, like in front of a school.

    I agree, if he was on public property he should have been able to protest.

  8. #8
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    Yup. I might not agree with the message but I would fight for the right to convey it in a public arena.


    Eve

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eve
    Yup. I might not agree with the message but I would fight for the right to convey it in a public arena.


    Eve
    I'm all for the 1st amendment... but for every person who believes in one thing, there are 20 who feel the opposite way. My point is why should it be ok for someone to try to hurt a workplace business because they don't share the same views? Granted, this is Walmart (huge) but same rules apply for Mom & Pop America..
    If the guy wants to publicly convey his message that he is against gay marriage...more power to him...but to say "Walmart doesn't share my views...don't shop here"...I just don't know...

  10. #10
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    The 1st A is about freedom against censorship based on content. Unless the speech incites violence, or is otherwise prohibited (obscenity), he gets a pass. If gay activists were outside WalMart praising it, there would be no problem, right?

    Eve


  11. #11
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    According to the article, the protester WAS on public property.

    I think what the ACLU is testing here has nothing to do with WalMart (or gay marriage) per se, but a chance to reverse an overly broad law. As usual, the ACLU is looking at the free speech issue rather than the content of this one man's protest.

    More power to the ACLU (even though I think their client is psycho).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nova
    According to the article, the protester WAS on public property.

    I think what the ACLU is testing here has nothing to do with WalMart (or gay marriage) per se, but a chance to reverse an overly broad law. As usual, the ACLU is looking at the free speech issue rather than the content of this one man's protest.

    More power to the ACLU (even though I think their client is psycho).
    Content is only relevant if it is prohibited speech (incitement or obscenity). Nazis have been allowed free speech. Having a free marketplace of ideas means many unpopular ones. It protects all of us.

    Eve

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by eve
    Content is only relevant if it is prohibited speech (incitement or obscenity). Nazis have been allowed free speech. Having a free marketplace of ideas means many unpopular ones. It protects all of us.

    Eve
    Exactly, Eve. But it's a common misconception here that the ACLU only defends "liberal causes." I wanted to emphasize that the ACLU will defend free speech, even if that speech opposes a "liberal cause" such as gay marriage.

  14. #14
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    Kudos to the ACLU for doing something right, but it's a moot point for the protestor as Wal-Mart said it would change it's policies regarding the gay issues, and would generally avoid issues that are divisive or controversial. At least I am pretty sure I read that last week. I'll have to go look.


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  15. #15
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    Frankly, I'd be more inclined to shop at Wal-Mart knowing that they support gay marriage and "lifestyle," so I'd like to thank the guy for letting us all in on it.

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