For now Bourbon Street preaching limits blocked

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Bourbon Street in New Orleans

A federal judge has set an Oct. 1 hearing for a city ordinance restricting religious or political speech on Bourbon Street after dark.

The Times-Picayune reports that U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon issued a temporary restraining order late last week that blocks enforcement of the law for now. 

Under the law, Christian evangelists were arrested earlier this month for preaching on Bourbon Street during Southern Decadence, an annual celebration of gay Pride.

The restraining order came after the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed the suit on behalf of Kelsey Nicole McCauley, a member of the Raven Ministries religious congregation.

The ordinance was adopted in October 2011 and violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Eldon has set a hearing to decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction.

Nine Christian preachers and activists were arrested earlier this month during the gay-themed Southern Decadence. One person arrested reportedly held a sign reading “God Hates Homos” and others shouted what witnesses characterized as slurs.

ACLU lawyer Justin Harrison said McCauley and others she was with had nothing to do with that incident. Harrison said McCauley and her group are not confrontational.

“They don’t follow people or touch them at all. They don’t even engage specific people unless they want to be engaged,” he said.

A group of French Quarter residents and business owners proposed the law to crack down on people harassing or intimidating Quarter residents and tourists while asking for money for themselves or various, often bogus, charities.