Alan Blackburn's walking days will soon be over.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue employee who decorated his car with religious messages, was banned from the employee lot and was forced to walk a quarter of a mile to the shoulder of Crow Wing County Road 48 since January, settled his lawsuit against the state.
Under the terms of the agreement Blackburn will be allowed to post his signs on his car and in his office cubicle. Blackburn also said he will receive $8,700 from the state, with $3,700 of that going to the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented him in the lawsuit.
His car signs, which are a familiar sight to motorists on County Road 48, include one which states "God defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. He also says sex is to be enjoyed between a husband and wife only."
That message, which will be allowed to be posted on his car in the employee parking lot, will not be posted in his cubicle, Blackburn said. He will, however, be able to post three other signs that he posted before being instructed to remove them. The 10-year Department of Revenue employee said the settlement also stipulates that he not post duplicate signs on the car or in his office. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in St. Paul in June of this year.
Blackburn, 48, said Thursday will be the first day he will be allowed to post his signs, giving his Department of Revenue supervisors some time to explain the settlement to his colleagues.
Department of Revenue officials could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the settlement. Under the settlement the department did not admit liability, but will allow Blackburn to post his signs. Blackburn agreed to drop his lawsuit.
Blackburn, who argued in his suit that his rights to free speech and free exercise of religion were being denied, said he was pleased with the settlement.
"I feel like a regular employee," he said.
Other signs on Blackburn's car read:
* "God is a loving and caring God."
* "God gave us the 10 Commandments. 'In God We Trust' is our national motto. Why can't the 10 Commandments be displayed on government property?"
* "Share your beliefs with other. Then stand back and let them decide what to do. God gave us freedom of choice."
(This story includes information from The Associated Press.)
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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