Group sues library over presentation policy
Library trustees did not allow a talk on 'the biblical view of homosexuality.'
By ED RUNYAN
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
CLEVELAND -- A Florida religious organization has sued in federal court seeking to overturn the policy of the Newton Falls Public Library that requires presentations in the library to give both sides of an issue.
Liberty Counsel Inc. filed the suit in the court's Northern District this week seeking to overturn a decision by the library's board of trustees in May to deny the organization its request to give a talk on "the biblical view on homosexuality."
Liberty Counsel of Longwood, Fla., represents an organization called Liberty Foundation. In 2004, it offered studies to California officials stating that gays and lesbians are inferior parents. This was then presented in support of the state's ban on same-sex marriages.
In Arkansas, the organization filed a motion in 2004 to support the state's decision to offer "Choose Life" license plates.
On May 4, Erik Stanley of the organization applied to give a one-hour talk during late May or early June in the library's meeting room. In the application, Stanley stated the talk would include information on why "marriage must be only between one man and one woman," the lawsuit states. Stanley gave a Florida address.
The library denied permission for the talk because the program conflicts with the library policy, the suit says. The library's policy states that "If a program deals with a controversial subject, then all sides of the issue must be presented."
The organization sued the library on grounds that the policy violates its First and 14th Amendment rights to freedom of speech, peaceable assembly and equal protection. Kerry McCrone, the library's director, said she could not comment on the suit. "We are seeking counsel," she said.
The suit stated Liberty Foundation did not want to present an opposing viewpoint but does still want to present the program, and asked the court for preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop the board from enforcing its policy on presenting both sides of the issue and allowing Liberty Counsel to present its talk without regard to its controversial nature.
The case is assigned to Judge Peter C. Economus and Magistrate Judge James S. Gallas.