Non-profit sues Oregon library

A group of concerned citizens have lodged civil litigation against a library in Seaside, Oregon, claiming that the library blatantly exercises discrimination with its policies in lending out the use of its meeting rooms. Claiming that the library's current policies are a direct violation of the United States Constitution, members of the nonprofit organization called Liberty Counsel have filed its complaint in U.S. district court.

The group, which is based outside of Oregon, attempted to use the meeting room for a religion-oriented event, which would have served as an outreach program for children and their parents in the Seaside, Oregon area. The event was to be conducted from a Christian point of view, teaching out of the Bible.

A volunteer with the Liberty Counsel, a male Enterprise resident, issued a written request to use the meeting room on Aug. 6, 2011 for the event. The man was later contacted by a library employee, who left a voicemail informing the man his request had been denied. The library board adopted the current policy, which states that the meeting rooms cannot be used for a host of reasons, from religious services, fundraising, solicitation and business development to political campaigns or gambling.

The intended use for the library meeting rules, per library policy, is to offer free gathering space for educational and cultural enrichment. In light of the recent happenings, the policy sounds a little ironic, claiming that the meeting rooms are intended to be a welcoming environment for everyone.

Members of Liberty Counsel cannot help but think that they were turned down the right to use the meeting room based solely on their religious orientation. The group argued in its lawsuit that they should have access to the meeting room just as anyone else would and should not be treated differently because of its religious message. They cited the first and 14th amendments that grant U.S. citizens the right to free speech and equal protection respectively.

Source: The Daily Astorian, "Lawsuit filed against Seaside Library," Nancy McCarthy, March 2, 2012

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