Magistrate recommends dismissal of Drag Queen Story Hour lawsuit

Magistrate recommends dismissal of Drag Queen Story Hour lawsuit

LAFAYETTE, LA (WAFB) - The plaintiffs in a lawsuit centered on the controversial Drag Queen Story Hour event originally scheduled for October 6 at the Library Main Branch in Lafayette “failed to establish that any purported injury is traceable," to library official’s decision to cancel the event according to Federal Magistrate Patrick Hanna.

First reported by The Advocate, Hanna determined the plaintiffs Aaron Guidry, John Gunter, and Mark Sevier lacked standing to sue, which they claimed as taxpayers and library patrons, partially due to Gunter and Sevier not paying Lafayette Parish property taxes, which provides funding for the library.

According to Hanna, they therefore failed to show “direct dollars-and-cents injury,” as opposed to a religious or ideological difference. Hanna recommends the lawsuit be dismissed.

Hanna’s decision will serve as a recommendation to a U.S. District Court judge rather than a final determination. Plaintiffs have 14 days to submit a written objection.

Once announced, news of the event sparked outrage from members of the community who argued the program was an inappropriate use of spaces funded by taxpayers.

Former president of the Lafayette Public Library Board of Control, Joseph Gordon-Wiltz, resigned Monday, August 27 following controversy over the event. At the same time, U.S. Representative for Louisiana Third Congressional District Clay Higgins also released a statement condemning the organizers of the event and questioning the judgment of the Lafayette Public Library Board.

Hundred of people signed an online petition, spearheaded by the Citizens of New Louisiana, against the event.

Members from groups called Warriors for Christ and Special Forces of Liberty filed a lawsuit against the library. An excerpt from that lawsuit can be read below.

“The Plaintiffs object to self-identified transgenders exploiting the state’s endorsement of their religious ideology in an government endorsed effort to brainwash and indoctrinate minors to a religious worldviews on sex, faith, truth, gender, morality, and marriage in a manner that excessively entangles the government with the religion of postmodern-western-individualistic-moral relativism - referred to mainly by the Plaintiffs and the United States Supreme Court as “Secular Humanism.” By endorsing transgenderism in the manner complained of the city of Lafayette is relegating Christians to second class citizens.”

Sometime afterward, library officials instituted a policy requiring library patrons to sign documents promising not to use library spaces for the purpose of hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour event. Had someone violated the terms of the document and host a ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ event “directly or indirectly,” they’d be sued.

­The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana responded to that action by filing their own lawsuit in late December. In response to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Louisiana, the Lafayette Public Library agreed to lift its unconstitutional ban on patrons organizing events called Drag Queen Story Time.

“It seemed that the library realized the unconstitutionality of their actions and agreed to stop using the form. This was a big victory for the LGBTQ community,” said Katie Schwartzmann,the ACLU of Louisiana’s legal director. "The Lafayette library and parish have an obligation to protect the rights of everyone they serve. Drag Queen Story Time is a show that must go on. Thankfully, it seems as though the Lafayette Public Library finally recognized that.

The original Drag Queen Story Hour was planned by members of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity of “gay, bisexual and progressive men.” Expecting a high turnout, organizers moved the event to ­South Louisiana Community College, before it was cancelled due to ­security concerns.

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.