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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Suit Provokes Granting of Parade Permit; More Than 200 March for Lesbian and Gay Pride in Chattanooga For IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 14, 1993 CHATTANOOGA -- Spurred by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, the Chattanooga Police Department has issued a hotly contested parade permit for the Chattanooga Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, allowing more than 200 people to march on June 13 in a celebration of gay visibility and a call for gay and lesbian rights. "This year's parade -- which was twice the size of last year's -- celebrated not only gay pride, but also our protection under the First Amendment," said Marvin Parker, one of the parade organizer. "Because we were able to march down the route we had selected -- rather than the deserted warehouse district the City Council picked for us -- we achieved recognition in Chattanooga and opened up a dialogue about gay rights here." The ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and the ACLU of Tennessee had filed suit on behalf of the Pride Committee on June 2, after the committee itself had sought the parade permit for three months. Despite the Committee's repeated efforts, the Chattanooga City Council refused to grant the group a permit for its desired march route through a residential district. Instead, because of opposition within that district, the City Council on its own initiative issued a permit for a parade through an industrial zone. "The City Council's decision to shunt this parade aside because of its controversial message blatantly violated the right to free expression guaranteed to all Americans," said Marc E. Elovitz, Staff Counsel to the ACLU national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and lead attorney on the case. "City streets must be made available for parades and marches on a content-neutral basis," Elovitz said. "A city council or any other city official cannot sit in judgment of the viewpoints of city residents." Two days after the ACLU lawsuit was filed, Chattanooga Police Chief Ralph Cothran exercised his authority to grant a permit for the residential route. Although his decision, allowed the 1993 pride parade to go forward as scheduled, it did not solve the underlying problem of Chattanooga's impermissible system for considering and granting such permits. The ACLU challenge will continue until Chattanooga adopts a constitutional system, one that carefully limits the discretion of city officials and prohibits decisions based upon the message of any march. "The Police Chief's quick decision saved the City from having to defend itself in an emergency hearing," said Ruth E. Harlow, another ACLU attorney working on the litigation. "But Chattanooga must still reform its permit-granting scheme so others are not silenced or hampered," she added. "Lesbians and gay men have advanced civil liberties for all Chattanoogans by fighting this unconstitutional situation." The case is pending before United States District Judge R. Allan Edgar in Chattanooga. Judge Edgar has scheduled a case conference for June 24. In addition to Elovitz and Harlow, the plaintiffs are represented by Jay Ku of Chattanooga. --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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