Ala. Mayor Sued Over Pride Banners
Last May, Birmingham, AL Mayor Larry Langford refused to allow banners to be hung in the city in celebration of Pride Week. Now a GLBT equality group is suing on First Amendment grounds.
As reported in Aug. 27 by Fox affiliate WBRC-TV, Central Alabama Pride is suing over the mayor’s decision not to allow the banners to go up for Pride even though, the group says, other groups have been granted permission to hang banners and flags.
Last May, Langford made the news when he said that he would not endorse the event with a proclamation; indeed, Langford’s reason for declining to allow the banners was that it is not the role of government to promote lifestyle choices.
The Birmingham News reported last May 25 that the mayor had declined to sign a permit for the proceedings, deferring to the police department to furnish the document to Pride organizers.
The mayor also said he would not prevent the police from issuing the permit, saying, "As long as I don’t have to sign it, I won’t interfere with it."
Added the mayor, "As long as they are conducting themselves orderly, it’s not an issue for me."
Langford pointed out that in his earlier capacity of Jefferson County Commission president, he had declined to provide a proclamation, also.
Said Langford of the event, "They’re making an issue that is between them and God, not between them and me," the newspaper article said.
Added the mayor, "I do not condone that lifestyle, but they knew that before they even came to me."
The Pride parade on June 7 marked the 20th such celebration by the city’s GLBT residents.
Said Jonathan Quinn, president of Central Alabama Pride, "We are proud every day and we’re building a stronger community, whether it’s signed off on or not."
The Birmingham News also posted a video of the mayor’s statement about the suit.
In the video clip, the mayor said, "The city only puts up banners for events we sponsor, and we didn’t sponsor the Gay Pride event."
Continued the mayor, "I didn’t sign the proclamation, and that is what they’re really angry about.
"Issuing a proclamation is the prerogative of the mayor. I don’t issue proclamations for things I do not believe in."
Added the mayor, "I don’t condone the gay lifestyle."
The mayor went on, "If they wanted to sue somebody, [they] need to sue God; God is the one who said it was unnatural for a man to lie down with another man."
Langford went on to say that, "they can’t sell that to the public."