Ohio library’s discrimination draws lawsuit

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2008

CONTACT:   David Miller at (513) 733-5775
David Langdon, Esq. at (513) 733-1038

Government agency guilty of discrimination
Group files suit after library denies use of meeting room

CINCINNATI, Ohio – Apparently the old adage to never discuss politics or religion in public is more than just good etiquette in a Columbus-area library. Patrons can talk about anything else. But these two are sacrosanct and part of the “thou shalt nots” if you want to use the library meeting room. Just ask a conservative public policy group who got bounced when they wanted to host a public meeting called “Politics and the Pulpit.”

In response, attorneys for Citizens for Community Values (CCV) filed a lawsuit in federal court today after the Upper Arlington Public Library (UA) refused to allow the group to use a public meeting room to discuss the commingling of the two topics. The library’s director, Ann R. Moore, rescinded the group’s reservation saying the proposed meeting CCV was sponsoring violated library policy because they contained “inherent elements of a religious service.”

David Miller, CCV’s Vice President for Public Policy, was disappointed by the cancellation but was not dissuaded from holding the policy briefings at other public libraries. “Most people would presume that the government would work to see that everyone is treated equally. But when they are the ones who actually engage in the discrimination because of your particular religious viewpoint, it’s a little surprising,” Miller said.

Miller pointed to the inconsistency in the library’s own policy. The meeting room policies state, in part:

As an institution of education for democratic living, the library welcomes the use of its meeting rooms for cultural activities and discussion of public questions and social issues. Our meeting rooms are available on equal terms to all groups in the community regardless of the beliefs and affiliations of their members…The use of the meeting rooms for commercial, religious or political campaign meetings is not permitted. (emphasis added)

CCV believes that court action is needed in order to secure the future rights and freedoms of other individuals or groups to insure that no one else will be discriminated against for their religious viewpoints. First Amendment attorney, David Langdon, and the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org), filed the lawsuit on behalf of the organization.

A copy of the complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, in Citizens for Community Values v. Upper Arlington Public Library Board of Trustees is available at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/CCVcomplaint.pdf.

Citizens for Community Values is a 25-year old pro-family public policy organization with offices in Cincinnati and Columbus.