The Pro-Life Viewpoint and Equal Access

This is artwork I included with my letter to the mayor. It’s intended to match the cool colors of the rainbow.

A few days ago, a federal district judge in Asheville, North Carolina declared the state’s marriage amendment to be unconstitutional.  This amendment to the North Carolina constitution, passed in 2012 by a margin of roughly 61 to 39% of those voting, affirmed marriage to be between a man and a woman.  The judge acted under an implied directive from the U.S. Supreme Court when it refused to accept an appeal from a decision of the 4th Federal Circuit Court, which overturned Virginia’s marriage amendment.  North Carolina falls under the 4th Circuit’s authority.

Asheville, then, is ground zero of the moment for our state on this issue.  And Asheville City Council, cheerleaders for “marriage equality”, hung a giant rainbow flag on the exterior of City Hall in celebration of the supposed legalization of unnatural marriage.  It created quite a stir here.

Some local conservatives claimed that City Council broke laws regarding requirements for public meetings, since the decision to hang the flag was made informally.  Another conservative leader (a former City Councilman) posted on his Facebook page a photo of City Hall with the rainbow flag next to a photo of City Hall hung with a Nazi swastika flag.  It got lots of attention.

I took a different approach and filed a formal request to hang a pro-life banner on the building. What follows is text of the letter I sent to the mayor:

October 14, 2014

Mayor Esther Manheimer
City of Asheville
P.O. Box 7148
Asheville, NC 28802


Please consider this letter an application to display a Life Advocates banner on the side of Asheville City Hall on Friday, October 31, 2014, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The banner is approximately thirty feet long and four feet high.  It is made of a durable vinyl fabric with a black background and white letters that say “STOP ABORTING CHILDREN!”

It is the same banner we carried in Asheville’s Sesquicentennial parade some years ago.  Because abortion violently destroys the lives of millions of pre-natal human beings, and is government protected and sponsored, it is the foremost human rights issue of our day.

In an informal session, Asheville City Council recently designated the City Hall as a Limited Public Forum, making the exterior of the building accessible to the public for visual displays.  Federal case law is consistently explicit that in these circumstances, government is prohibited from engaging in viewpoint discrimination.

We would like the banner displayed to the same extent and in the same position or higher on the west side of the building that a rainbow flag was displayed on Friday, October 10.  With assistance and supervision of the City, we will ensure that the banner is affixed to the building in such a way as to be safe for the property and pedestrians.

The date for our requested use of the building coincides with a protest on the public sidewalks around Planned Parenthood’s proposed new killing site on 16 McDowell Street, which it expects to open within the next few months.  The protest, which we call “A Presence of Truth and Prayer” will be Saturday, November 1, “All Saints Day” from 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon.

Sincerely, Meredith Eugene Hunt

Copies sent to: City Councilmen and Vice Mayor, City Manager, Asheville Attorney, Parks and Recreation

LIFE ADVOCATES PO Box 19205 Asheville, NC 28815 828-575-7300

Here’s a link to a local TV news story on our request.

While a couple City Councilmen have expressed themselves on the matter, we have yet to receive an official response.  A friend of mine made an inquiry and was told the City’s legal department is doing some research.  I will file an update next week.

-Meredith “Mick” Hunt

Note: a title for the monarch butterfly photo is “complexity in smallness”.  I took it on the Blue Ridge Parkway this fall.  Click to enlarge.

Mick Hunt is the Director of Life Advocates and a regular FAB contributor.

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3 Responses to “The Pro-Life Viewpoint and Equal Access”

  1. October 21st, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Pro-life blog buzz 10-21-14 - Jill Stanek says:

    […] Fletcher Armstrong has put in a request to City Hall in Asheville, North Carolina, asking them to afford his pro-life group the same right to display a banner on the building as was given to a rainbow flag celebrating the striking down of a statewide ban on gay marriage. While he is still awaiting an official response, he has received some local TV coverage for his request. […]

  2. October 22nd, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Mick says:

    October 15. From Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell, who incidentally was a volunteer escort at a local abortion site for many years (until it closed last June) and attended a fundraising event for the place:

    Mr. Hunt,

    The display of the rainbow flag last week was done in accordance with established City policy concerning marriage equality. Council had voted on and unanimously endorsed the legal change many months ago and display of the rainbow flag was in accordance with that policy and recognition of a very significant victory in both the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts. Given that the display was in accord with established City policy, it is difficult for me to see this as viewpoint discrimination. Unlike your cause, this is settled law.

    If your cause is first officially endorsed by Asheville City Council and then achieves a similar endorsement from the U.S. Supreme Court, I’m sure we would follow through in similar fashion.


  3. October 22nd, 2014 at 5:20 am

    Mick says:

    Mr. Bothwell seems to think I had claimed displaying the rainbow flag was viewpoint discrimination, but that’s not what I said. He doesn’t deny that City Council created a public forum, rather he says if I successfully get City Council to pass an official resolution in support of protecting pre-natal children and establish a policy based on the resolution, and if my cause wins in the U.S. Supreme Court, then they would display our banner.

    That’s viewpoint discrimination exactly.

    I told him that free speech law is far more settled than law regarding what’s represented by the rainbow flag.


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