“The park board’s decision is akin to allowing the Klu Klux Klan to openly convey their racist and anti-immigration views at the Cinco de Mayo festival,” says Minnesota Pride Festival attorney Eileen Scallen, denouncing the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s decision to permit Brian and Lois Johnson’s distribution of Bibles and waving of signs at this weekend’s event. Pride organizers are the ones who paid the tens of thousands of dollars in permit fees, and thus they should be able to control the message; the parks board says it’s just defending the Johnsons’ rights to free speech. Not surprisingly, the Johnsons have enlisted the help of the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund, which describes the event as a “festival devoted to the toleration of homosexual conduct.”
If the parks board doesn’t let the Johnsons in, ADF says it’ll sue. Which is fine. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, already decided the matter: Events organizers using public space can discriminate against participants. The two scenarios between the cases would be so similar, a judge should throw out the lawsuit at first glance. In the meantime, a judge should grant organizers their request to block the Johnsons’ rhetoric.