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Charlotte Pride wins 2005 permit, after battle with religious wingnuts and city officials

The fundy mayor: “I do not want that festival in a park setting,” he said. “If they need to do it, I think it belongs in a hotel.” Bible-beating homo-bashing, anti-choice activist Sheryl Chandler says Operation Save America will be taking pictures and videos of what goes on, to document any illegal behavior

A victory in the Queen City. Idiot Repug Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory has been under pressure from the fundy group Operation Save America to restrict the use of public parks, specifically targeting Charlotte Pride. [Note Mayor McCrory made it on the Blend earlier this week for snubbing a major HRC convention’s request for a letter of welcome.]

Despite all of that, Charlotte Pride has succeeded in getting its park permit for this year. (Charlotte Observer):

…About 100 protesters urged the city council in January to not issue Charlotte Pride organizers a permit, saying last year’s festival contained explicit photos and skits they believe were obscene and illegal.

City officials, however, said in memos that the festival’s organizers were protected by the First Amendment, and they believe no laws were broken at last year’s festival. Still, they’ve warned organizers to keep vulgar language and pictures out of the park this year.

A routine meeting last month between city officials and organizers to discuss logistics for the May 7 event included detailed briefings on First Amendment laws and appropriate behavior, Pride organizers and city officials said. And in a letter to Pride leaders Kris Conyers and Nathan Smith, Mayor Pat McCrory asked them not to use foul language or have vendors where “pictures and words would be better suited for a private sector convention display.”

…In an interview with the Observer, McCrory said he believes Charlotte Pride isn’t appropriate for a public place. He said he’s talked to lawyers about the legality of the festival, and has been told that it would be unconstitutional to deny organizers a permit based on what they might do. “I do not want that festival in a park setting,” he said. “If they need to do it, I think it belongs in a hotel” or other private setting.

…”We’re very disappointed,” said Sheryl Chandler of Charlotte. “I just hold fast that this does not belong in a public park. … I don’t think they can clean up their act.” Chandler sat down with city and police officials last month before the permit was issued, and asked them not to allow another festival. She said she believes festival organizers broke obscenity laws last year.

“Leather and Lace (strip club) cannot say, `One day a year, we’re going to take our operation down to the park,” Chandler said. “Because this group is politically protected and people are afraid of them, they’re not held to the same obscenity standard.”

Last year, she and other protesters walked through the crowd preaching the Bible. This year, she says, her focus will be less on evangelizing and more on taking pictures and videos of what goes on, to document any illegal behavior.

It should be noted that last year’s attendance at the event topped 8,000, and, according to Q-Notes, which covered Charlotte Pride in 2004, OSA members went in and out of the crowd “harassing LGBT festival-goers by videotaping them, and asking them about their sexuality and suggesting they should consider changing their orientation.” This group called for the police working the Pride event who wore rainbow pins “to be reprimanded” for this simple act of freedom of speech.

Earlier posts on this are here and here.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding