NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A minister known for his bullhorn-amplified protests at an annual gay festival in the French Quarter has been arrested on an obscenity charge after two women said they saw him masturbating near a suburban New Orleans playground.
The Rev. Grant Storms, who in 2008 filed a lawsuit against a Wisconsin gay rights group, was booked Friday after two women reported seeing him masturbating as he sat in a van near a playground in Metairie, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
According to the sheriff’s report, Storms told deputies he was having lunch at the park and decided to urinate using a bottle instead of a restroom.
Storms was released from jail Sunday because of crowding, sheriff’s spokesman John Fortunato said Tuesday.
Repeated attempts to reach Storms by telephone were unsuccessful. His home phone line was continuously busy Tuesday morning. A number for the Reformer Church, the small fundamentalist church he once ran in Jefferson Parish, was disconnected.
For years, Storms called on the city of New Orleans to outlaw the annual Southern Decadence festival, a gay-themed Labor Day event in the French Quarter. Calling the festival “this party of perversion and festival of filthiness,” he at times led anti-gay pickets through the quarter as he brandished a bullhorn and protested the festival.
His protests against Southern Decadence went nowhere, but he did achieve some success at the Louisiana Legislature. His videotapes of on-the-street sex acts that took place in the French Quarter during the 2002 Southern Decadence festival helped persuade state lawmakers to toughen criminal penalties for sex acts in public view “for the purpose of gaining the attention of the public.”
That same year he also testified against a bill, which was killed, that would have provided for a specialty automobile license plate commemorating a gay support group, Parents, Familes and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
He had a lower profile after Hurricane Katrina hit the city in August 2005. He didn’t protest when the festival resumed in 2006, the year after it was canceled because of Hurricane Katrina.
Storms’ lawsuit filed against a Wisconsin gay rights group was ruled frivolous by that state’s Supreme Court in 2008. Storms had sued Action Wisconsin after it took excerpts from a 2003 speech Storms made in Milwaukee and claimed he was advocating the murder of gays.