US gay activist wins case
NEW YORK — The state of New Jersey has dismissed all charges against gay activist Stephen Durham, who was arrested for leafleting at the Walt Whitman Turnpike rest stop while on his way to the National March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Rights in April 1993.
Durham, who was defended by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, called the state's dismissal of the charges against him a "vindication of everyone's constitutional right to express their political viewpoint".
A motion filed by Durham's attorney contended that the turnpike regulation against distributing literature violated the right of free speech, which is protected by the first amendment to the US constitution. The turnpike authorities have agreed to review the current statutes and bring them into line with both the US and New Jersey constitutions.
Durham's defence of freedom of expression was supported by hundreds of people across the US and as far away as Australia who wrote letters or signed petitions to the court calling for dismissal of the charges. Durham credited his supporters with demonstrating to the state that there is widespread concern for defending rights for everyone, including gays and political radicals.
Durham, who is the New York City organiser of the Freedom Socialist Party, concluded, "Our victory demonstrates the effectiveness of people openly standing together against all forms of censorship, police repression, harassment and discrimination". He added, "In the final analysis, though, our full liberation depends on junking capitalism, because it survives by breeding racism, sexism and homophobia".