A group of gay pride protesters is
suing the city of Elmira, NY. The Christian group says their First
Amendment rights were denied when police prohibited them from passing
out Christian literature, reports local NBC affiliate WETM.
An attorney for the group says the
police told the protesters not to hold signs or pass out literature
on Christianity at June's Southern Tier Gay Pride Festival. The
group is lead by thirty-seven-year old street preacher Julian Raven.
“Christians shouldn't be
discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” said Alliance
Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster in a prepared
statement. “Police cannot threaten to arrest Christians at a city
park for sharing their viewpoint at an event open to the general
public. Respecting their free speech rights is not optional.”
Oster also said that police told one
protester to remove a red shirt that read “liberated from sin” on
the front and “by the blood of Jesus” on the back.
Group members were arrested last year
at the same event when they laid down in front of an entertainment
stage and refused police instructions to move. The group was found
guilty of disorderly conduct and fined $100. That decision is being
appealed by the group.
“We have a legal right to be at an
event held in a public square. We're not a hate group,” Raven told
the Star Gazette after last year's arrest. “We're
Christians and we're going to be there to pray.”