"A government official cannot pick and choose which groups get government
benefits or free speech rights"
BIRMINGHAM, AL -- At the U.S. District Court, Northern
District of Alabama late yesterday, Lambda Legal joined a lawsuit on behalf of
Central Alabama Pride (CAP) against Mayor Larry Langford who interfered with
their right to free speech last summer when he directed city workers to treat
the group differently than other groups are treated.
"Mayor Larry Langford denied government benefits to Central Alabama Pride
solely on the basis of his personal beliefs," said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney
in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. "A government
official cannot pick and choose which groups get government benefits or free
Lambda Legal and local attorney David Gespass represent CAP in their lawsuit
against Mayor Langford for refusing to allow city workers to attach Pride
banners on city poles. CAP has held a gay pride parade through the streets of
Birmingham every year since 1987, and had its Pride banners displayed in
accordance with city policy that attached banners for a variety of organizations
when they have events taking place in the city. However, in May of 2008, the
mayor announced that he would neither sign a proclamation nor provide a permit
for gay pride based on his religious beliefs that do not "condone that lifestyle
choice." As a result of the mayor's refusal to allow city workers to attach CAP
banners using city equipment, unlike the city has in years past with every other
group, CAP was forced to subject themselves to extraordinary risks and dangers
in order display their message.
CAP filed a complaint against the City in August of 2008 in the Northern
District of Alabama. Birmingham elected to allow Liberty Council, a national
antigay, conservative firm to represent them in responding to the lawsuit with a
motion to dismiss the case. After consulting with Lambda Legal, CAP filed an
amended complaint in December 2008, and Lambda Legal formerly entered the case
as co-counsel by filing a responsive brief arguing that the motion to dismiss
has no legal basis late yesterday.
Lambda Legal challenges the Mayor's actions claiming free speech and equal
protection violations for denying CAP city resources that are available to other
The case is Central Alabama Pride, Inc. v. Larry Langford.