U.S District Court Judge Michael Ponsor today heard hate group leader Scott Lively’s motion to dismiss the crimes against humanity lawsuit brought by Sexual Minorities Uganda.
Ponsor said the lawsuit filed by Sexual Minorities Uganda against the Springfield minister poses a test of Lively’s free-speech protection and the rights of sexual minorities to equal protection under the law. But the judge said the plaintiffs needed to show a connection between Lively’s anti-gay advocacy in Uganda and illegal acts committed against gays in the country. “I’m frankly struggling to see what behavior beyond expressive behavior” of Lively violated federal law, the judge said during the hearing attended by about 150 people, including a prominent Ugandan activist.
The plaintiffs, the judge added, “needed to show a more concrete example of misbehavior to justify continuation of the lawsuit.” But the judge also expressed skepticism about Lively’s request to dismiss the case before trial, noting that the courts have set a high legal threshold for throwing out cases. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Pamela Spees, said that Lively both advised and encouraged homophobic activists in Uganda to deprive sexual minorities of their rights.
The Center for Constitutional Rights says that they remain optimistic about their case. The judge gave no timeline for issuing his ruling.
VIDEO: MassLive.com was outside the courthouse today.