crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters
I want to get this piece out before those on the right have a chance to use this man as their new “cause celebre” against the so-called radical gay agenda:
An eastern Pennsylvania university police officer is asking a federal appeals court to rule that he had a right to refuse an order to disperse anti-abortion and anti-gay demonstrators on campus almost four years ago.
Cpl. Steve Armbruster said he was given what he considered an unconstitutional order to eject 15 members of the evangelical group Repent America from the Kutztown University campus in April 2007. He was relieved of his duties and later suspended for five days without pay.
A federal judge last year rejected his lawsuit, and The Philadelphia Inquirer said the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard his appeal last week.
Students and university officials said the group showed up unexpectedly to preach against homosexuality and was confronted by hundreds of students. A judge later dismissed disorderly conduct charges against members but criticized them for demonstrating on the campus without the university's permission.
Armbruster contended that the order by the university president and the campus police chief would violate the group's civil rights and subject him to liability.
U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II Jones ruled last year that Armbruster was serving in his official capacity, so his rights were not violated. He also rejected Armbruster's position that he had a right to refuse to violate the constitutional rights of others.
You get that? A group – Repent America – showed up unannounced on a college campus and began to protest. Since they had no permission to do so, university police were called in to disperse them. However, a member of the said police refused to do his job for his own reasons. He was suspended without pay but is trying to sue.
Seems to me that if you don't do the job you were assigned without a good reason – and his reason in regards to the First Amendment was not adequate – you should deal with the consequences.
No doubt if they retell this story for their own purposes, religious right groups will probably mock up the details so to create more sympathy for Armbuster. They did so in past cases of former religious right cause celebres who either got fired or into trouble because they didn't adhere to very fair rules regarding conduct and then chose to make the controversy into a religion vs. homosexuality issue. Cause celebres such as:
and the group in the center of the controversy, Repent America – who is known for making unannounced nuisances of themselves and then whining about how their rights are being violated.
I can just see the spin now (God help us).
Hat tip to LezGetReal