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Antigay Minister Charged With Noise Violation For Pride Protest 

Antigay Minister Charged With Noise Violation For Pride Protest 


A reverend who was arrested for violating a noise ordinance while protesting a gay pride event in Charlotte, N.C., says the charge is a violation of his right to free speech.

The Charlotte Observer reports that thousands of people flocked to the Pride Charlotte festival over the weekend -- which raised money for the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center -- among them a dozen or so protesters, including Reverend Phillip "Flip" Benham.

Benham, who has had four brushes with the law since January 2010 -- including a conviction for stalking -- said he turned down the volume of his loudspeaker when officers asked him to. But as he stood outside the festival reading from the first chapter of Romans, his voice began to rise as he preached passionately about God's wrath against sin.

Benham says the city's policy of limiting public noise is a violation of his First Amendment rights. "It's the way the city controls us," Benham said. "It controls the message that we speak. The city can control the content of a message if they can control the volume."

Benham was reportedly the only one arrested.

According to the Observer, "the city's noise ordinance requires people using microphones and speakers on city streets to keep the noise below 75 decibels. Officers measure the sound from 10 feet away and typically warn people that they're above the limit before making arrests or issuing citations."

Read more here.

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