Minn. Gay Pride Fest Seeks to Block Evangelists

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Organizers of Minneapolis' Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival have announced they will continue their fight to bar Christian evangelists from the annual event.

Planners said they might opt to hold future festivals at a private venue instead.

The news comes after a federal court ruled that Brian Johnson, a Christian from Hayward, Wis., could not be blocked from passing out Bibles or preaching at a recent Loring Park gay pride event, because it was held in a public place.

"As a festival attendee in a public forum, Johnson is entitled to speak and hand out literature, quintessential activities protected by the First Amendment, so long as he remains undisruptive," U.S. District Judge John Tunheim wrote in a 19-page decision.

Johnson had been a presence at the event for more than a decade, sponsoring a small booth where he passed out Bibles and shared his faith.

Johnson's attorney, Nate Kellum, described the evangelist as a man with a "goal to share his faith" who considers homosexuality "a sin and immoral."

Kellum added that Johnson has "a constitutional right to speak his peace," and "that's what Mr. Johnson does."

Although an attorney for the festival would not say whether an appeal was planned, Twin Cities Pride spokesman Jim Kelley told the Wall Street Journal "We plan to continue to make sure we have fair rights in the future."

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