A federal judge has denied a request
from organizers of this weekend's Twin Cities Pride to ban a
protester from distributing anti-gay literature during their two-day
gay pride event that begins Saturday.
U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim
said denying Brian Johnson of Hayward, Wisconsin access to
Minneapolis' Loring Park during the event would be a violation of his
First Amendment rights.
Organizers had argued that their right
to regulate vendors should extend to who distributes literature.
On that point, Tunheim sided with
organizers, saying that if a protester attempted to set up a
“quasi-booth” that creates a disruption, then he or she could be
In a statement released late Friday,
Twin Cities Pride said they would abide by the ruling.
“As long as Mr. Johnson and his
family do not create a disturbance, they can walk the Festival and
distribute their leaflets and Bibles to willing attendees,” Eileen
Scallen, co-cousel to Twin Cities Pride, said. “But should their
behavior be as troubling as it was at last year's festival, we shall
ask Minneapolis Police to remove them.”
Johnson was denied a vendor's permit to
distribute anti-gay literature and Bibles last year after being an
official vendor for 10 years. He nevertheless appeared at the event
with two relatives and proceeded to hand out literature. The three
were arrested but never charged.
Twin Cities Pride is the third largest
gay pride festival in the United States, drawing more than 200,000