The Pro-Life Viewpoint and Equal Access
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
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.
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.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 10:30 am and is filed under Pro Life Activism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.