Two women sued [complaint, PDF] the college town of Starkville, Mississippi, Monday after it denied a permit for a gay pride parade.
The women had submitted an application for a parade permit to the city of Starkville, following the city’s guidelines. Most of the time, the applications are addressed without publicity through a standard yes or no vote. However, in this case, the plaintiffs’ application was put through an irregular procedure that involved a closed-session meeting of the board as well as subsequent public comment. The only objections raised had nothing to do with logistics, security, or cost. Rather, plaintiffs claim, they were anti-LGBT religious comments directed towards the pro-LGBT view that would be expressed by the parade. After these discussions, the board denied the permit application.
The plaintiffs argue that the city had denied [legal memorandum, PDF] their constitutional rights to free expression because the First Amendment “strictly limits the grounds on which they can deny permits.” In addition, under the Equal Protection Clause, “the Supreme Court has made clear that governmental acts based solely on animus against LGBT individuals are constitutionally impermissible.”