A federal judge has ruled that the homosexual activist group called Philly Pride Presents has to face the legal wrath of 11 Christians who were arrested for protesting a “gay pride” event in the City of Brotherly Love.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence F. Stengel issued a 17-page opinion denying the homosexual group’s motion to dismiss, which had sought to release the group from a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Christian protesters – who came collectively to be known as “the Philadelphia Eleven.” According to a press release from Repent America, the group behind the Christian protest, “the lawsuit, in part, declares that Philly Pride conspired with the Philadelphia Police to deprive eleven Christians of their constitutional rights at the group’s homosexual celebration on October 10, 2004.”
The lawsuit was filed Oct. 21, against the City of Philadelphia, Philly Pride Presents, and others for the arrest of six men and five women with Repent America as they demonstrated at Philly Pride’s annual “OutFest” event.
As WorldNetDaily reported, at the October 2004 event, the 11 Christians from Repent America were preaching to a crowd and displaying banners with biblical messages.
After a confrontation with a group called the Pink Angels – described by protesters as “a militant mob of homosexuals” – the Christians were arrested and spent a night in jail.
None of the Pink Angels was cited or arrested, but four of Repent America members individually were charged with three felonies and five misdemeanors and faced up to 47 years in prison and $90,000 in fines each.
In February 2005, after national publicity led to widespread criticism of the arrests and particularly the excessive penalties being threatened, a judge dismissed all criminal charges.
According to Repent America’s statement on Friday’s judicial ruling:
During the criminal proceedings, Chief Inspector James Tiano, who is the Philadelphia Police Department’s “liaison to the gay and lesbian community,” testified that police met with the “OutFest” organizers three or four times before the event and discussed, among other things, tactics to prevent Repent America from having access to the event. Additionally, police video shows Chief Inspector Tiano addressing a group of officers to inform them that the “religious right” was coming, and that the “Pink Angels” would be interfering with them.
“Chief Inspector Tiano’s comments seem to make it clear that the City conspired with the organizers of ‘OutFest’ to ensure that Repent America would not have access to the event to exercise their protected rights under both our state and federal Constitutions,” stated Ted Hoppe, attorney for the Philadelphia Eleven.
In his opinion denying Philly Pride’s motion to dismiss, Stengel’s wrote: “In this case, Plaintiffs have pleaded sufficient facts to infer a conspiracy between the Philly Pride Defendants and the other defendants. The Complaint alleges a number of facts sufficient to support an inference of a conspiracy to deprive Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights.”
Stengel added, however, that he couldn’t determine whether a conspiracy actually existed without further documentation.
“We are most pleased with the Judge Stengel’s decision to deny Philly Pride Presents’ motion to dismiss, and look forward to the discovery phase of the case,” stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. “The discovery process will afford us the opportunity to conduct depositions in order to further investigate evidence and document the conspiratorial actions between Philly Pride and the Philadelphia Police to violate our civil rights,” Marcavage continued.
Hoppe, counsel for the Philadelphia 11, added: “The City’s action at the ‘OutFest’ event demonstrated a clear hostility toward Repent America and the content of their message. Through this lawsuit, we hope to send a message to the City of Philadelphia, its police force, as well as Philly Pride Presents, that they do not have the right to interfere with Repent America’s constitutionally protected rights to free speech and free exercise of religion simply because they do not agree with the content of their message.”
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