Murfreesboro settle lawsuit over controversial LGBTQ events ban

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Murfreesboro settle lawsuit over controversial LGBTQ events ban

Advocacy Leads to Policy Change and Legal Victory

In a significant turn of events, LGBTQ+ advocates have reached a settlement with the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, leading to the repeal of an ordinance that prohibited events organized by the LGBTQ+ community, including drag shows, pride celebrations, and parades. This decision comes as a resolution to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Tennessee, and law firms Ballard Spahr and Burr & Forman on behalf of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), the organizers of the annual BoroPride Festival.

Related : Murfreesboro pay half-million dollars for banning Pride & making homosexuality illegal

Details of the Settlement

On Wednesday, it was announced that city officials agreed to retract the ordinance and will now approve all event permits submitted by TEP. Additionally, the city has agreed to compensate with $500,000 in restitution. Chris Sanders, the executive director of TEP, expressed relief and satisfaction with the settlement, stating, “We celebrate the resolution of this case because it has guaranteed the rollback of a discriminatory policy and affirmed our right to host BoroPride. Now we can turn our attention to preparing for the 2024 BoroPride festival and defending the rights of LGBTQ+ Tennesseans at the state legislature.”

Background of the Dispute

The legal action was initiated in Tennessee following a year of what was described as a “concerted anti-LGBTQ+” campaign led by City Manager Craig Tindall and Mayor Shane McFarland. The controversy began when the city denied a permit for BoroPride in November 2022, citing concerns over exposing children to inappropriate content. This sparked a broader attempt to censor LGBTQ+ expression in the community, including the banning of certain books from public libraries.

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The City’s Response

Following the lawsuit, the city made adjustments to the ordinance by removing “homosexuality” from the definition of “sexual conduct.” Ultimately, the Murfreesboro City Council fully repealed the ordinance in late December. The agreement also specifies that Craig Tindall will no longer review any of TEP’s future permit requests, marking a clear shift in the city’s approach to LGBTQ+ events and expression.

National Implications of the Settlement

The ACLU and representing attorneys highlighted the settlement as a victory against censorship and discrimination, emphasizing the unconstitutional nature of the city’s previous stance. “This settlement sends a clear message that the city’s discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community was blatantly unconstitutional and that this type of behavior will no longer be tolerated here – or anywhere across the country,” they stated.

This case is part of a broader national dialogue on LGBTQ+ rights and the First Amendment, spotlighting the ongoing legislative attempts across the U.S. to limit LGBTQ+ expression and rights. With over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures last year, the settlement in Murfreesboro serves as a critical reminder of the importance of advocacy and legal action in defending civil liberties and promoting inclusivity.

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