Mayor Urging Change in City Banner Policy
July 11, 2001
P. O. Box 25125, Oklahoma City, OK 73125
By Jack Money, Staff Writer
Mayor Kirk Humphreys is hoping to change a policy that allows groups like
the Cimarron Alliance Foundation to use banner brackets on Oklahoma City
utility poles to promote gay and lesbian pride.
With the banners still being displayed along Classen Boulevard, Humphreys
is asking city staff to determine whether such messages can be rejected in the
Humphreys said the communitys well-being plays a role in his opposition
to such banners.
The banners in question feature a torch with a rainbow flame over the name
of the Cimarron Alliance Foundation. The banners promote gay and lesbian pride
and the notion that gays and lesbians are human, too.
"Our banners are not obscene, so they clearly are legally protected
free speech," said Bill Rogers, an attorney and a member of the Cimarron
Humphreys said he doesnt believe the city would allow religious banners
on its poles because they would be controversial and might violate a
court-mandated separation between church and state.
Humphreys said homosexual-based messages should be banned because they are
Humphreys said he believes the citys banner policy should prohibit all
that dont contain "positive" community messages.
"What our staff is saying is that we cant prohibit the Cimarron
Alliance from doing this because of the First Amendment: They have a right to
say what they want, and their activities arent illegal," Humphreys
"Well, a religious activity is legal, and a cross is a matter of
freedom of speech, too. I dont understand the argument."
Oklahoma City has 1,240 banner locations within its city limits that are
available for use by community groups to promote activities.
City Manager Jim Couch said he agrees with Humphreys that stricter
guidelines should be considered.
The citys staff granted a permit for Cimarron Alliances banners to be
put on 44 poles along Classen. City leaders decided to take the banners down
after receiving complaints.
They then put them back up after attorneys representing the foundation
threatened to file a lawsuit against the city.
Couch said his staff will look at the policies of other cities for answers.
City Attorney Bill West said he needs to meet with Couch and Humphreys
before starting his research on what types of regulations the city could put
on the banner program.
"I am not going to rule out anything," West said Tuesday. "I
am really a strong believer in the First Amendment."
Rogers, once a member of Oklahoma Citys now defunct Human Rights
Commission, sees the flap over the banners as another chapter in an ongoing
effort to erase homosexuality awareness from the community.
"They may not be popular with everybody, but that doesnt make any
difference," Rogers said. "The protection of unpopular speech is
fundamental to the American way of life that is what we are all about in
"They (homosexuals) have a right to behave that way if they want to
although some aspects of it are illegal, quite frankly," he said.
"But I dont think they have the right to use public facilities to
advance their philosophy, for the same reasons that Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux
Klan and religious groups dont."
Humphreys said the citys staff likely would not allow banners from hate
groups like the Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.
"We practice discretion, but I think we are afraid of threats from
groups like the Cimarron Alliance. I find it offensive that we wont put up
a religious message, but we will put up an irreligious message. And I dont
think we ought to put either one up."
Rogers said the mayor is inviting trouble.
"Our basic problem is in convincing people that homosexuals are
subject to discrimination. This incident with the banners just paints it
across the sky."
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