Settlement Reached in Lambda Legal's Federal Case Against the Mayor and City of Birmingham
"The settlement sends a clear message that discrimination against the gay community will not be tolerated in this city where historic progress has been made for civil rights."
(Birmingham, AL, September 2, 2009) — Yesterday afternoon, a settlement agreement was reached in Lambda Legal's federal lawsuit on behalf of Central Alabama Pride (CAP) against the City of Birmingham and its Mayor, Larry Langford, who interfered with their right to free speech last summer.
“We are pleased with the terms of the settlement authorized by the City of Birmingham that protects free speech and equal treatment,” said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “The settlement agreement sends a clear message that discrimination against members of the gay community will not be tolerated in this city where historic progress has been made for civil rights.”
The settlement, reached after a federal judge ruled against the city and mayor in their efforts to have the case dismissed, comes after Lambda Legal and local attorney David Gespass filed the lawsuit in August of 2008 in the Northern District of Alabama on behalf of CAP based on Mayor Langford’s actions in refusing to allow city workers to attach Pride banners on city light posts. CAP has held a gay pride parade through the streets of Birmingham every year since 1987, and had its Pride banners displayed in accordance with the city’s practice of attaching banners for a variety of organizations that have held events in the city. However, in May of 2008, the mayor announced that he would neither sign a proclamation nor provide a permit for gay pride based on his religious beliefs that do not “condone that lifestyle choice.” The mayor then refused to allow city workers to attach CAP banners using city equipment, unlike the city has in years past with other corporate, private and religious groups. CAP members were forced to face extraordinary risks and dangers in order to display their message. This lawsuit followed initial unsuccessful efforts to negotiate the passage of an even-handed policy. Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay legal group, represented the city and the mayor.
According to the settlement, the City of Birmingham will pay legal costs and attorneys’ fees of more than $40,000 and will establish objective and non-discriminatory written “banner-hanging” regulations for the approval of the hanging of banners on city light posts, etc, by city employees to announce upcoming public events taking place in the city.
Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office, served as co-counsel on this case.
The case is Central Alabama Pride, Inc. v. Larry Langford