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Street preacher wins lawsuit appeal against Music City

John McGlone

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The City of Nashville has lost a free speech lawsuit on appeal that could have national repercussions.

Last week, the Cincinnati based Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Nashville Police violated the First Amendment rights of street preachers John McGlone and Jeremy Peters during the city’s 2015 Gay Pride Festival.

McGlone and Peters sued the city after officials made them leave the sidewalk in front of the park where the festival was being held.

The city argued their preaching interfered with the festival’s message. The appeals court ruled officials inappropriately excluded the preachers specifically because of their anti-gay speech.

Chris Sanders speaks for the state’s largest LGBTQ organization, the Tennessee Equality Project. He says the gay community was hoping for a ruling that preserved everyone’s free speech rights, but doesn’t think this decision achieves that balance.

“This looks like it preserves the rights of those who would disrupt Pride Festival more than those who want to attend them.”

Sanders says the Sixth Circuit’s ruling could have broad implications for any event held on public property. He says event planners will have to adjust.

“That may involve in the future looking at private venues as opposed to public spaces. It may involve ways of drowning out the noise. So, everyone has more strategizing to do I think.”

The City of Nashville hasn’t said yet whether it plans to appeal the ruling.

WMOT reached out to street preacher John McGlone for comment. He declined to do so on the advice of his attorneys.