Street closure denied for event run by LGBTQ group

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Less than a month before an event organized by an LGBTQ group in Madisonville starts, a request to close a Madisonville street where it was supposed to happen is narrowly denied by city council.

“It’s been kept up very well. There’s some important businesses on the street,” says Cody Lander of Pennyrile Pride Alliance, describing why Sugg Street was the best place to hold their MadCity Pride next month. He says it gives them more space than past venues.

“Our first year, we ran out of space at our venue at city park. Our second year, we had it at our convention center, ran out of space there,” Lander says.

But city council turned their request to close the street off on October 13th, the day of the event, by a 3-2 margin. A separate request to put it on railroad street, next to Sugg Street, narrowly approved. City Councilman Frank Stevenson, who voted against the closure, says he doesn’t want the city to be seen as supporting political or activist groups, which is how he described Pennyrile Pride. 

“That’s their constitutional right of free speech and right to assembly. We’re going to accommodate that,” Stevenson says. “We don’t want to bleed over to special consideration of a particular group that their views are recognizable in controversy or disagreement.”

“I would like to understand how that applies to all the other events we have. The pride organization isn’t a strictly advocacy group,” says Hilary Lowbridge of Madisonville.

“You can try to word them however you would like, but we have done a great done of good for the community, even though we’re not a 501c3. We’ve raised thousands of dollars for the warming shelters, for disaster relief aid,” adds Lander.

Despite being turned down for the request this year, Lander says he and his group will be making the same request next year. Lander says they’ve also had to change where some of the festival’s events will be held because of the street closure denial.

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(This story was originally published on September 20, 2018)

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