Marcavage Lawsuit Dismissed

Court sides with the City of Philadelphia over gay pride conduct

If you’ve been to any LGBT event in the last few years then you would probably recognize Michael Marcavage. He’s the guy from Repent America holding signs claiming that homosexuality is an abomination. He and his minions are also quite vocal on bullhorns, reciting Bible verses and handing out leaflets in hopes of converting gay people.

But a hotly debated issue has recently reached an end in the Marcavage v. City of Philadelphia – a case that pitted the anti-gay religious crusader against the Philadelphia Police Department. Just recently, a Pennsylvania federal district court dismissed his civil rights lawsuit, according to Religion Clause, saying the evangelical street preacher does not have the right to interfere with any organization that secured a permit for its event.

Marcavage charged that police unlawfully separated him – along with fellow protestors with their banners, signs, bullhorns and proclamations against homosexuality – from the LGBT event. But the court said, “The City has a legitimate interest in preventing Marcavage – as a counter-protester of a permitted event – from interfering with the message of the permit holder and ensuring the safety of both the participants as well as Marcavage and his group.”

It wasn’t the first time Repent America has been involved in a lawsuit. During Outfest on October 10, 2004, Marcavage and 10 of his supporters were arrested for hate crimes. They spent 21 hours in jail and faced up to 47 years in prison with almost $100,000 in fines – each.

The defense argued that the group was sanctioned for preaching Gospel. “This case not only involves an effort to suppress the Christian viewpoint and to keep that viewpoint from being expressed in the public square,” said Ted Hoppe, the group’s attorney, “it also demonstrates a complete lack of regard by the City of Philadelphia for the basic right to free speech and free exercise of religion.”

While these charges were ultimately dismissed, the latest lawsuit – and its dismissal – is a bit of a blow to Marcavage and Repent America. By supporting law enforcement’s duty to protect all individuals, Marcavage’s claims that he was discriminated against fall short. Even so, we’re certainly expecting to see him at the next pride event come June.