Here's the latest news I found:
The four adult defendants who are part of the "Philadelphia 5," Christians who have been criminally charged for preaching at a homosexual event last fall, won a court battle today when a judge removed the bail requirement that they stay at least 100 feet away from any homosexual gathering.
"The judge dissolved the bail restriction," the defendants' attorney Scott Shields told WND.
Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe ruled the bail requirement was an "unusual restriction on a person's right to speech."
"We're gratified with the ruling," Shields said. "This judge recognized that my clients definitely do have the right to speak freely about any issue they want, especially in the public square."
Besides ruling on the bail restriction, Dembe viewed the videotape of the OutFest protest and said she could not see any criminal activity being committed.
Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, is also working with the Philly 5.
"It is clear that Judge Dembe understands and values the First Amendment; and because of that, she recognized that what is depicted in that video which captures everything at issue in this case, as we have been saying all along, is classic peaceful First Amendment activity."
Discussing the judge's ruling, Shields stated, "It was a good day for freedom."
A pro-family group in Pennsylvania is taking to task legislators who promised that adding "sexual orientation" to the state's hate-crimes law would not infringe upon the First Amendment rights of Christians.
The American Family Association of Pennsylvania points to the arrest and charging of five Christian who evangelized at a Philadelphia homosexual event. One of the charges the protesters face is "ethnic intimidation," possible only because "sexual orientation" was added to the hate-crimes law in 2002.
"Our prediction of the arrest of Christians under this law became true in October. We are now asking for an explanation from legislators who voted in favor of the bill. Secondly, for the protection of Pennsylvanians' free-speech rights, we are asking for a repeal of the law signed by Governor Mark Schweiker on Dec. 3, 2002," Diane Gramley, president of the pro-family group, said in a statement.
In November 2002, the Pennsylvania Legislature changed the hate-crimes law, adding "actual or perceived sexual orientation" and "gender or gender identity." AFA says legislators at the time assured concerned Pennsylvanians that the additions would not stifle the free-speech rights of Christians who criticize the homosexual lifestyle.
At the time of the debate, legislators claimed the law would be used only in the case of physical harm.
Rep. Mark Cohen, a Democrat from Philadelphia County, state in 2002: "Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that imaginations are running rather freely in this debate by opponents of this bill. This bill is not is not about calling names. This bill is about breaking bones and causing serious injury or death. This bill is not about what ministers or Sunday School teachers say. This bill is about what thugs, hooligans and murderers do. This bill is not about jokes that are offensive or tasteless. This bill is about blood in the streets."
Referring to the charging of the Christians with ethnic intimidation, AFA now shoots back: "Where are the thugs, hooligans and murderers? Where is the blood on the streets of Philadelphia?"
Another supporter of the bill during debate, Rep. Steven Nickol, a York County Republican, said, "So I think it pretty well speaks to the fact that what we are doing here is not outlawing fighting words or outlawing ethnic slurs or doing anything of that nature. What we are dealing with here are actual crimes committed against someone, not words."
Commented Gramley: "[The protesters] were simply exercising their First Amendment rights. The only way to restore the freedom of speech for all Pennsylvanians is to repeal the hate-crimes law that was passed in November 2002. The assurances of those in favor of its passage have proven to be empty promises."