City leaders in Essex, Iowa, are not permitting the local Pride group in their town's Labor Day Parade Monday. As a result, the ACLU of Iowa today sent the city a letter warning them that the denial is a clearly unconstitutional restriction of free speech. (Shenandoah is six miles from Essex and the two communities share resources.)
ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Mark Stringer said, "City leaders cannot ban participants from a government-sponsored parade just because they don't like their viewpoint. It is a clear violation of the First Amendment and each person's right to free speech and free expression in a public space. This action also sadly fails to acknowledge the many contributions of LGBTQ community members in our Iowa communities, large and small."
The letter urges "the City of Essex to rescind its prohibition and permit Shenandoah Pride to join the Labor Day Parade. Failing to do so will violate the rights of its citizens, potentially expose it to substantial liability, and be an injustice to the constitutional rights of every person and every group to participate in its public events."
The ACLU also recently sent out letters to a handful of Iowa communities that still have anti-drag ordinances on the books. Some of them have acknowledged that the ordinances are not constitutional and have either already changed the ordinances or are in the process of doing so. More information here.