NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A federal judge halted Murfreesboro’s so-called decency ordinance ahead of this weekend’s pride celebrations. It’s a move some in the LGBTQ+ community are calling a win.
On Friday, a federal judge signed off on an order blocking the City of Murfreesboro and officials from enforcing its so-called decency ordinance for one weekend. Pride organizers are calling the news a temporary win as the celebration, set for Saturday, Oct. 28, can move forward.
“This helps us get through pride festival itself but there are longer term issues, such as access to city facilities and things like, that will be addressed in the on-going court challenge,” said Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project.
The ordinance, which passed over the summer, aimed to put restrictions on “indecent behavior.” This drew concern from members of the Tennessee Equality Project and BoroPride, who teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file the suit, all saying the scope of the ordinance uses vague language.
“The law is supposed to be clear. The law is supposed to be based on reason so that a reasonable person would read it and know how it would be enforced, and when you don’t know, that has a chilling effect on your ability to engage in speech and activity,” said Sanders.
The lawsuit also claims Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland and City Manager Craig Tindall “engaged in a year-long anti-LGBT+ plus campaign” putting some blame on the decency ordinance. With a temporary block on the ordinance in place, pride organizers said not only will the event go on as planned, but so will their continued battle for what they believe is right.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to go through all that we’ve gone through over the last year, but the first pride was a protest, and we have that same fighting spirit,” said Sanders.
News 2 reached out to the City of Murfreesboro for a statement on the vote. The city replied with the following statement:
“The parties agreed, and the Judge accepted an agreement temporarily suspending enforcement of an ordinance designed to specify certain civil penalties against indecency in public spaces and to protect children from indecent conduct. However, other existing state statutes and City ordinances and penalties regarding such conduct remain applicable.”