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Letter to Lake County Fair Association Regarding Pro-Life Discrimination

Letter to Lake County Fair Association Regarding Pro-Life Discrimination

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Published by Tom Ciesielka
Thomas More Society representation of Lake County Right to Life (“LCRTL”), a not-for-profit, educational organization
based in Grayslake, Illinois. LCRTL recently applied for a booth at the Lake County Fair, as it has for each of the past thirty-seven years, but this year, LCRTL was unjustly and illegally denied a booth this year. Details in letter.
Thomas More Society representation of Lake County Right to Life (“LCRTL”), a not-for-profit, educational organization
based in Grayslake, Illinois. LCRTL recently applied for a booth at the Lake County Fair, as it has for each of the past thirty-seven years, but this year, LCRTL was unjustly and illegally denied a booth this year. Details in letter.

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Published by: Tom Ciesielka on Jun 26, 2012
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06/26/2012

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T
HOMAS
M
ORE
S
OCIETY
 
 A National Public Interest Law Firm
29 S. LaSalle | Suite 440 | Chicago, IL 60603 | www.thomasmoresociety.org | P: 312.782.1680 | F: 312.782.1887
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
June 26, 2012
By: Email to
info@lcfair.com
 Fax to 847-680-7260
Lake County Fair Association1060 East Peterson RoadGrayslake, IL 60030
Re: Lake County Right to Life Exhibitor Booth Denial
Dear Lake County Fair Association:We represent Lake County Right to Life (“LCRTL”), a not-for-profit, educational organizationbased in Grayslake, Illinois. LCRTL recently applied for a booth at the Lake County Fair, as it has foreach of the past thirty-seven years, but this year, LCRTL was unjustly and illegally denied a booth thisyear, as described below.LCRTL participates in the fair in order to share valuable health, religious, and religiously basedpolitical information from a pro-life perspective to fair patrons. A central educational feature of LCRTL’s message to fairgoers (who approach the booth to view the message) is a visual description of ahuman baby’s gestational development at seven intervals during pregnancy, using fetal models. (Such“cutaway” models are commonly used in museums and schools to show bodily organs and processesnormally hidden from view.) The fetal models are anatomically accurate and non-controversial, suitablefor viewing by children. Our clients have observed the fetal models being used on many occasions bymothers to describe to their children how babies develop, a topic of natural curiosity to children andadults alike.The utility of the fetal models for presenting LCRTL’s message is that, as a visual aid, they helpto render “self-evident,” in the words of the Framers of the Declaration of Independence, the humanityof the pre-born child in the womb and its inalienable right to life. LCRTL’s ability to communicate itspro-life message is significantly aided by these visual aids, which are common in county fair exhibits.Without them, LCRTL’s ability to communicate its religious pro-life message is crippled, as only avisual model is truly able to show in three dimensions the human “shape” and form of a pre-born humanchild, with inherent humanity and dignity.The models’ importance for LCRTL in visually communicating its pro-life message is such thatLCRTL has displayed these exact fetal models in its booth for
every one
of the past 37 years. Accordingto LCRTL volunteers Bonnie Quirke and Rosemary Simon, who have worked the booth each year,
never has a fairgoer raised a complaint or concern over the models’ appropriateness.
To the contrary,many fairgoers have thanked LCRTL for displaying the models, and several persons have noted that thedisplays enabled them better to understand and appreciate their pregnancies. In fact, the models are sounobjectionable that Ms. Quirke uses them in presentations to school children.
 
Lake County Fair Association-LCRTLPage 2 of 3June 26, 2012
29 S. LaSalle | Suite 440 | Chicago, IL 60603 | www.thomasmoresociety.org | P: 312.782.1680 | F: 312.782.1887
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
Our clients were, then, quite surprised when the Fair Association’s Kathleen Van Dien stated toMs. Quirke after she applied for a booth this year on behalf of LCRTL that the fair would refuse a boothto LCRTL if it intended to use its three-dimensional fetal models. When Ms. Quirke asked Ms. VanDien the reason for the condition, Ms. Van Dien stated that “some complaints” had been received aboutthe models. Ms. Quirke inquired into the nature of the complaints. Ms. Van Dien said she would not gointo that. Ms. Quirke asked Ms. Van Dien if the Fair’s Board of Directors were aware of the Fair’sposition, and she said that the board was meeting that evening (May 17, 2012) and she would review theissue with them. Later Ms. Quirke learned from Ms. Van Dien that “the board upheld” the fair’sdecision. When Ms. Quirke asked for the decision in writing, Ms. Van Dien said, “Oh, we’re much toobusy to do that.”The Fair Association’s refusal to grant LCRTL a booth constitutes illegal and invidiousdiscrimination.It is clear that the objection raised by the Fair Association is not to the models themselves, whichhave been used for 37 years without incident, but to the religious and political message the modelsrepresent. LCRTL uses the fetal models precisely because they are the most effective means availableto convey its central message that a human being has an inalienable right to life from conception tonatural death, which must be protected in law. Not only is this a core teaching of Christianity and theCatholic Church, it is a political message because of its myriad legal ramifications. The refusal of theFair Association to honor LCRTL’s prerogative to choose its own effective, and entirely age-appropriate, means to communicate its message subverts, interferes with, and discriminates againstLCRTL on the basis of its religion, and expresses a political preference for opponents to its message.As the Fair is a “public accommodation” under the Illinois Human Rights Act and Title II of thefederal Civil Rights Act, the Fair Association is prohibited from discriminating against LCRTL based onits religious message.Further, as a 501(c)(3) public charity, the Fair Association’s operating procedures require that itrefrain from discriminating against participants based on “religion or political preference.” (See, theFair’s Vendor Overview). While the Fair may reserve the right to reject displays (under the “Vetting”section of its Vendor Overview) that are “unethical, misleading, designer ‘knock-offs,’ extravagant,questionable, in poor taste or otherwise inappropriate or incompatible with the character of the fair,” thisreservation to supervise displays does not allow it to curtail the religious or political message of participants and so to discriminate against their religious or political views. Since none of the adjectivesin the vetting policy apply to the fetal models, which have been used without incident for 37 years andare quite suitable for viewing even by small children, the Fair Association is without authority todisallow this chosen means of communication by LCRTL. That it purports to do so renders moreobvious its discriminatory intent to subvert the religious pro-life message of LCRTL.Ms. Van Dien alluded to “complaints” about the fetal models. The Fair Association cannot andshould not stifle religious or political speech based on stray negative comments or complaints about themessage a booth conveys or about the means by which it is conveyed. Nondiscrimination towardreligious and political speech in a public accommodation requires a measure of deafness to complaintsby disgruntled listeners. Otherwise a mere gripe would sanction silencing religious and political

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