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07/15/2008

Ruling: Case that'll never end shouldn't have ever been contested

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 3-129You know that situation from 2004 wherein a group of protestors from the Repent America group were arrested for raising all sorts of hell at Philadelphia's OutFest celebration? The one that ever since, the folks on the far right have used in unfair ways, making it sound as if they were arrested for merely conveying their message? Yea, well, a federal appeals court ruled today that even though perennial "victim" Michael Marcavage and his merry band of Pride-fighters did have a right to be on site conveying their anti-gay message, they DID NOT have a right to act in the disruptive way that they did:

3d Circuit: Anti-gay activists can demonstrate, not disrupt [Philly.com]

So basically the court has dealt a blow to the constant "gays are trying to silence Christians" argument, drawing an important, should-be-obvious distinction between free speech and free rein to act however you want in public (especially when it tramples on the speech/expression rights of others). They've essentially agreed that just like with so many other things, the "pro-family" side has wasted everyone's time causing a stink about something that was clear-cut from the beginning. Four years of twisting the truth, misusing this case to argue against hate crimes legislation, launching side projects in which the advanced age of grandmothers is exploited for anti-gay gain -- all of it was hyperbolic rhetoric that is invalidated by the simple fact that Repent America (a) acted in a way that was outside the boundaries of acceptable conduct, and (b) didn;t accept police orders once they were given.

It remains to be seen if Repent America and their allies will just accept this ruling and move on quietly. That of course very much depends on whether any of the other cases they are pursuing (and there are several) seem more politically advantageous to their anti-gay cause.

**AFTER THE JUMP: Watch this video for some of what went down on the 10/04 day:

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Your thoughts

In my opinion, Michael Marcavage and his Repent America group is that special brand of crazy like the Phelps clan. He also has a history of losing lawsuits. He sued Temple University after they had him transported by police for having a breakdown in a bathroom at the University. The judge basically said that the university did the right thing and didn't violate any rights despite his claim the university was trying to silence him.

Posted by: Ed | Jul 15, 2008 9:47:51 PM

Ed is right, this guy is a long time nut. I approached him to talk with him during the Philly Pride parade a few years ago when his crew was 'evangelizing' (his term) by shouting vitriol through a bullhorn. I mistakenly thought I could have a brief and reasoned discussion with him. He just ignored me, raised his bullhorn from two feet away and almost blew out my eardrums. Good thing he had 5 or 6 Philly cops protecting him. Perhaps I was interfering with his right to free hate.

Posted by: Bruce H. | Jul 16, 2008 12:33:42 AM

Marcavage will always stick out in my mind as the the first person to connect Hurricane Katrina to gays. It was still during the heady, depressing days of that tragedy when he issued a press release on the subject:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2005/08/repent_america_.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 16, 2008 9:22:45 AM

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