Lawsuit: Let Me Preach on Bourbon Street at Night
New Orleans currently forbids it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 20, 2012 4:29 PM CDT
People walk past a strip club on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter section of New Orleans.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(Newser) – A street preacher is challenging an ordinance in New Orleans that restricts religious or political speech on the city's famous, raucous Bourbon Street after dark. In his federal lawsuit, New Orleans pastor Paul Gros claimed the city's "aggressive solicitation" ordinance sets unconstitutional limits on free speech. Gros said he was preaching on Bourbon Street with his wife, another pastor, and a friend on the night of May 15 when police ordered him to stop.

"They told him if he didn't stop he would be arrested," said one of his attorneys. Gros left without being arrested. Less than a month ago, however, police arrested several preachers on Bourbon Street during the Southern Decadence gay pride festival. The city council adopted the ordinance in October 2011, citing public safety and crowd control. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. The measure makes it a crime for anyone to "loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise."

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Showing 3 of 39 comments
Sep 20, 2012 11:15 PM CDT
Should the KKK be allowed to hold a rally at night in Harlem? That would simply be a provocation. Ministers who want to preach to a gay gathering on Bourbon during Southern Decadence are simply there to provoke trouble. Indeed, on the other weekends to party-going straight, the preacher would also be doing nothing except provoking. As a youth I would listen to the radio preachers from Mississippi denouncing Babylon, Sodom, and New Orleans. They had their dry counties and blue laws in Mississippi. Happily, I lived in New Orleans with its freedom. You can preach in your churches, and outside them. But Preachers should not be allowed to stand in front of Roman Catholic churches with their bull horns. Nor in front of synagogues. Nor in front of mosques. Nor in front of bars and strip shows.
Sep 20, 2012 9:08 PM CDT
We need that same rule for tv preachers . No preaching on my tv.
Sep 20, 2012 7:44 PM CDT
And tell me if I'm wrong, but isn't "gay pride" a social message? They're not restricted?