An Ohio library dropped a policy that barred a public interest group from holding a forum on traditional marriage without also inviting someone to argue for “same-sex marriage.”
The agreement by the Newton Falls Library Board of Trustees settled a lawsuit filed by Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which applied to the library to hold a meeting last spring that would include prayer and Scripture reading.
The library denied Liberty Counsel’s application, citing a policy that said, “If a program deals with a controversial subject, then all sides of the issue must be presented.”
The policy made the room available to “nonprofit organizations” for “programs of a civic, cultural or educational nature.”
Liberty Counsel said it requested the room for specific dates at the end of May and on June 6 or 13, but library director Kerry McCrone denied the application May 23.
Along with notice of the denial, McCrone sent a copy of the policy, highlighting the statement that if a program deals with a controversial subject, all sides of the issue must be presented.
With the settlement, the library has agreed to remove the requirement.
Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, said the old policy violated the First Amendment’s right of free speech.
“Under the former policy, Liberty Counsel would have been required to invite a proponent of same-sex marriage before we could address our viewpoint that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” he said. “Such a policy invites dispute and ends up censoring the speaker.”