Free Speech for Gay Group: A Case of Hypocrisy

A couple of weeks ago, we criticized the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when it overruled an injunction by a lower court in favor of Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries. The religous group had been denied the right to use public facilities, facilities that were routinely used on a first-come first-serve basis by other community groups. The lower court had invoked an injunction allowing the group to use facilities while the case was be adjudicated. The lower court was relying on the Supreme Court decision in Widmar v. Vincent. According to the decision, if a public institution, in that case the University of Missouri at Kansas City, “makes it facilities available for the activities of registered student groups¬Ö[t]he university¬ís exclusionary policy [toward religious group] violates the fundamental principle that a state regulation of speech should be content-neutral.”

The Ninth Circuit found little harm if “mere” religious activities were circumscribed and reversed the injunction.

In a nearly identical situation, a lower court in Miami granted an injunction that allowed the Gay-Straight Alliance to have the same access to school facilities as other groups. The suit on behalf of the group was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit is valid, an injunction should be granted, and the Gay-Straight Alliance should formally prevail in the suit.

Miami falls under the jurisdiction of Eleventh and not the Ninth Circuit. We suspect that had the case occurred in their district the Ninth Circuit Court would have sustained the injunction for the Gay-Straight Alliance, though we can never know for sure. However, we do know that the Faith Center was not represented by the ACLU. The scent of hypocrisy is in the air.

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