Here are the latest articles I've found.
The issue isn't whether you agree with their message, agree with their beliefs, or agree with their methods. The only issues here are freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
The charges stem from Marcavage showing up at a gay pride event called "Outfest" and preaching that homosexual conduct is a sin. He was joined by 10 other members of his group, Repent America, there last October.
The groupís message was not well-received by the event organizers, who sought to surround the group and drown out their leaderís biblical recitations.
City police, who were supposed to be there to make sure peace was maintained and everyoneís civil rights were upheld, instead moved against the protesters. Marcavage and the others were arrested. As they were taken away, the Outfesters, of course, cheered.
"We have a right to have a party," said Franny Price, an organizer of the event.
Yes they do. But they donít have the "right" to be protected from the religious views of any citizen who cares to share them. Not if "Outfest" is going have its "party" in a public place, on a public street -- funded, by the way, with public dollars.
If Philadelphiaís gay community wanted to throw a party to celebrate gayness with no risk of party poopers, they should have rented a hall, with their own money, and taken it inside. There, they would be free to exclude anybody whose opinions and beliefs offended them.
But if you want to put on a public demonstration to celebrate something that a large number of people in this country still seem to think of as sinful, well, you take your chances that somebody is going to show up and tell you where they think youíve gone wrong.
It would be nice to know where the American Civil Liberties Union comes down in all of this. I called the Philadelphia office yesterday but didnít hear back.
But on its national Web page, the ACLU states:
"It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment ..
Uh, no itís not. The first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment is freedom of religion. That the ACLU has now seen fit to edit the Bill of Rights to exclude it says a lot about that once-august organization.
The ACLU once had the guts to stand up for the right of Nazis to march in America. Today, in this case, the ACLU is AWOL. Doesnít a Christian in this country have the same civil rights as a Nazi?
Even if you think Marcavage is a nut, heís a clever nut. His case not only shows the fearful intolerance of some in the gay community, but their influence in Philadelphia to silence and even have arrested their perceived enemies.
People who truly appreciate the First Amendment understand that it canít be selectively applied or ignored by government officials. There have to be a good number of gay men and women who disagree with serious charges levied against Marcavage and the others; gays who understand that if a religious zealotís rights can be violated with impunity by the police and D.A.ís office, so can theirs.
They should speak up.
Wednesday afternoon, watching Marcavage and fellow defendant Mark Diener, Bibles in hand, being interviewed by the media in front of the courthouse, a well-dressed passerby offered his opinion on the matter.
"It scares me how close those guys are to the Taliban," he said.
We amicably agreed to disagree.
It was a foggy day in the city. So foggy you couldnít see Billy Pennís feet.
A different sort of fog seems to be clouding the minds of some would-be liberal lawyers when it comes to this prosecution.
Itíll be nice when it finally lifts.
"In a political coup bordering on the surreal, four of the 11 [Christians] were charged with multiple felonies, including possession of instruments of crime (a mini-bullhorn), inciting a riot (despite the glaring absence of said riot) and most disturbingly, ethnic intimidation. Ethnic intimidation? Due to Philadelphia's recent amendment to their hate-crime legislation, criticizing homosexuality has been lumped in as 'hate crime material.'"
Continued Mitchell's description: "These men and women were not the cartoonish, televangelist types, screaming hellfire and brimstone, but were active citizens voicing their dissent in a peaceful, law-abiding fashion, when police and homosexual thugs surrounded them, impeded their progress on a public street, aggressively pushed them away from the event and ultimately stripped them of their American civil liberties."