Free speech is not solicitation: American Civil Liberties Union

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Friday, October 13, 2006

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have written in support of the right of advocates against a referendum for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Virginia to carry out political canvassing.

Anti-solicitation ordinances were used as the basis to block three persons who canvassed a neighborhood to oppose the legislation, and they were subsequently ordered to leave the area. The gay marriage ban they opposed is on the up-coming ballot for the mid-term election.

"The right of canvassers to enter onto private property to express their views is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution," said Kent Willis of the ACLU. The First Amendment deals with the right to free speech.

Homeowners can ask persons to leave their property, "but homeowners should not expect the police to remove canvassers from neighborhoods just because they find their presence irritating, or they don't like the content of their message."

Police Chief Connie Novak appears to concur with this view and in an interview stated "If it's a matter of clarifying to my officers, I will certainly do that."