Last Sunday the Gay Liberation Network (GLN) protested on the sidewalk directly in front of Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. They chose the Sunday that married couples renewed their vows, in honor of St. Valentine’s Day, to stage a protest against the Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage.
On their website they defend their protest as “a peaceful expression of 1st Amendment rights.” Unfortunately for all of us, the laws of the City of Chicago don’t allow for unrestricted freedom of expression, peaceful or not.
Chicago’s Disorderly Conduct Statute Is Very Broad
The Chicago Bubble Zone, which has been plaguing pro-lifers since November 2009, is actually the third of three parts of the disorderly conduct statute [pdf]. The second section explicitly prohibits picketing within 150 of a “church, temple, synagogue or other place of worship” during a service or 30 minutes before and after any service.
Attorneys have pointed out that the law is not being enforced equally. While pro-lifers like Joe Holland are arrested for standing quietly near the door of Planned Parenthood, chanting protesters are allowed to disrupt Mass without consequences.
Chicago Police Promise Not To Enforce Statute
This year the Gay Liberation Network planned ahead of time. They had the ACLU of Illinois write a letter to the police, asking them whether they would be enforcing the Disorderly Conduct Statute during their protest the following week.
The police said no, they wouldn’t. (Unfortunately this letter is no longer available on the ACLU of Illinois’ website.)
Although they weren’t a loud and rowdy as last year, the protesters were directly in front of the doors of the Cathedral again this year.
To be honest, it’s frustrating that less than a mile away the same police officers who stand watching the GLN protesters blatantly violate the Disorderly Conduct Statute are willing to arrest pro-lifers for any suspected offense of the same law.
Not that it keeps me from going out there every Saturday, but the GLN isn’t the only group who wants to be treated equally!