Judge Blocks New Orleans Anti–Street Preaching Law
BY Trudy Ring
September 25 2012 3:32 PM ET
A judge has suspended enforcement of a New Orleans ordinance under which several antigay street preachers were arrested during the Southern Decadence festival Labor Day weekend.
U.S. district judge Eldon Fallon last Friday issued a temporary restraining order against the “aggressive solicitation” law, which forbids people to “loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise,” The Times-Picayune reports. Fallon scheduled a hearing on a preliminary injunction for next Monday.
Eight antigay preachers were arrested on suspicion of violating the law during this year’s Southern Decadence, an LGBT-focused annual celebration in the city’s French Quarter, which includes Bourbon Street. A ninth was arrested on suspicion of battery and resisting a police officer who attempted to take away his bullhorn. Some preachers present that night carried signs with slogans such as “God Hates Homos” and, according to witnesses, shouted homophobic slurs.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which sought the restraining order, represents a client who was not involved in that incident and does not engage in aggressive activity, said ACLU lawyer Justin Harrison. Kelsey McKenner and her group, Raven Ministries, “don’t follow people or touch them at all,” Harrison told The Times-Picayune. “They don’t even engage specific people unless they want to be engaged.”