AURORA – Aurora Pride, a local LGBTQ+ rights group in the Chicago suburb, will move forward with its 2023 Pride Parade after a federal court blocked enforcement of an Aurora ordinance that caused the 2022 parade permit to be revoked only a few days in advance. In a ruling issued today by U.S. District Court Judge Martha Pacold, the court found that parts of Aurora’s Special Events Ordinance could not be enforced because it allowed individual police officers the discretion to decide about the viability, scope and cost of protected speech in the community.
As a result of the court order, the City of Aurora is expected to grant a permit to Aurora Pride to allow the 2023 Pride Parade can move forward.
“We are ready to move forward with planning for the 2023 Pride Parade in Aurora,” said Gwyn Ciesla, President of Aurora Pride. “Aurora Pride is grateful we will once again be able to create the space to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in Aurora, and that they will be able to gather and feel welcomed in their own community. This is a great outcome.”
Aurora Pride’s lawsuit was filed in January to challenge Aurora’s Special Events Ordinance, which allowed Aurora police officers who disagreed with Aurora Pride’s constitutionally-protected message to stymie the 2022 Pride Parade. After the parade permit had been issued, a group of police and local politicians objected to Aurora Pride’s decision to welcome a group of police officers to march in the parade, but ask them to wear plain clothes rather than appear armed in full police gear. As a result, many officers withdrew their commitment to work on parade day, prompting the City to revoke Aurora Pride’s permit.
Only after a good deal of wrangling—including the City’s last-minute offer of additional payments to officers who agreed to work the parade– was the parade permitted to move forward, resulting in a successful event drawing thousands of spectators.
“The court clearly understood that our constitution does not allow police officers veto power over a parade or demonstration.” said Rebecca Glenberg, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Illinois, one of the lawyers representing Aurora Pride. “The Aurora ordinance allowed officers to block a parade simply because they do not like the message of the organizers.”
“We welcome everyone to the 2023 Pride Parade and build hope and support for the LGBTQ+ community in Aurora,” added Ciesla. “As we see attacks on members of our community in states and communities across the country, it is crucial that Aurora be an open, welcoming place.”