Antigay Activists Lose Chicago Gay Games Protest Lawsuit

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com October 06 2011 5:01 PM ET

A federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Christian protestors arrested for blocking pedestrian traffic at the 2006 Gay Games cannot sue the city of Chicago.

Courthouse News Service reports that a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found no violation of protesters’ rights. Three members of Volunteers for Repent America had filed suit alleging that police officers had violated the First and 14th amendments, and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur rejected this claim, however, finding that the officers' instructions were content-neutral regulations narrowly tailored to maintain an orderly flow of traffic,” reports Courthouse News Service. “The 7th Circuit affirmed Tuesday.”

Volunteers for Repent America attempted to spread their message of Christian ministry by engaging passersby at locations including Soldier Field, Navy Pier, and Wrigley Field over the course of the games. Members of the group charged that by moving them from the pedestrian traffic flow to locations adjacent to the traffic in one instance, the police had disrupted their ability to perform “one-on-one presentation of the Gospel of Jesus.” In another instance, demonstrators were prevented from entering an area without a permit.

The panel ordered the trial court on remand to review the city’s permit policy. Judges expressed concern that the policy, which does not specify group size, could be applied to the plaintiff’s small group of five people, or even as few as one.