PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Protestors went too far when they disrupted a gay pride rally, the 3rd Circuit ruled. Michael Marcavage and other members of Repent America were arrested for their actions at OutFest 2004, which took place in Philadelphia’s “Gayborhood.”
Marcavage made no secret of his intentions to disrupt the event. He was quoted in the Philadelphia Gay News as saying, “We will do what God is calling us to do. If that means breaking the law, we will do that.”
PhillyPride, the organizers of OutFest, tried to exclude Repent America from the event, but police attorney Karen Simmons said they would be allowed with signs and bullhorns so long as they did not break the law.
PhillyPride responded by assembling a group of “Pink Angels” to blow whistles and hold up angel-shaped signs to form a human buffer to keep Repent America away from the rest of the crowd.
At the parade, the police repeatedly asked the protestors to move to alternate locations to avoid disrupting the events. They ultimately refused and were arrested.
Judge Sloviter ruled that PhillyPride did not have the right to deny Repent America’s access to a free public event. However, the protestors are “not free to proceed as they like through the permit area. The right of free speech does not encompass the right to cause disruption.”
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