Kicking and Screaming, Westminster City Council Grants Tet Parade to LGBT-Excluding Group

westminstercitycouncilmeeting.jpg
Photo by Charles Lam

They preached, they yelled, they banged the tables, but ultimately, the five members of the Westminster City Council voted unanimously yesterday to grant the (for now) LGBT-excluding Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California a permit to host the 2014 Tet Festival.

Each member made separate impassioned speeches for inclusion before the vote, but eventually heeded the advice of their city attorney and approved the request.

"This city council has gone on the record to indicate that it does not in any way condone any form of discrimination," said City Attorney Richard Jones. "It supports the LGBT communities' right to participate in this parade. ...Having said that, we are in the unique situation that the event in front of the council this evening is not a city-sponsored event. It's an event proposed by a private organization, and they have the right to exclude whoever they please."

It may be the most disdained unanimous vote in Westminster's history.

Over 150 people attended the meeting, with approximately two dozen choosing to voice their opinions. Nearly all of the attendees were pro-inclusion, as evidenced by the applause pro-LGBT speakers received and the crickets anti-LGBT speakers endured.

"Last year, the Tet parade felt more like a military coup than a celebration," said Tolan Nguyen, a U.S. Army veteran who fled Vietnam by boat as a young child and is lesbian, during the public comment period. "The people who organized the parade last year should be ashamed to call themselves community organizers.

"The issue shouldn't be if you're gay, straight or indifferent," she continued. "It should be about unity, about love, and passion, and acceptance. Live and let live, love and be loved, that is what the parade is all about."

The night was not without threats of consequences. Though Viet Rainbow of Orange County had mentioned before that they would approach sponsors and participants, their plans if they were excluded were readily apparent tonight. Multiple speakers asked city councilmembers to boycott the parade if LGBT groups were excluded, and representatives from the Democratic Party of Orange County and the OC Labor Federation spoke on the groups behalf.

"If the Tet parade practices exclusion, the Democratic Party will push for people to boycott the event," said LGBT Caucus Co-Chair Jeff LeTourneau. "...This is so much bigger than this event and this city. The LGBT communities statewide and countrywide are watching. This will not be a repeat of last year, we will not let it happen."

Some speakers went as far to say that if the Federation were to exclude LGBT participants, that they would face a challenge for the event next year.

"I'm here as a supporter of the Tet parade and the Tet parade organizers," said Joe Dovinh, former assembly candidate and husband of Garden Grove Councilmember Dina Nguyen. "I'm here for inclusion, I support the Vietnamese heritage, I support the LGBT community. I wouldn't want to be excluded from a parade because I'm Vietnamese, I wouldn't want to be excluded from a parade for any reason. [If LGBT groups are excluded], there will be other groups that will be willing to hold the parade."

After nearly an hour of comments by 19 pro-LGBT speakers, five speakers to the contrary voiced their opinions.

"You should be listening to the voices and the aspiration of the voters living in your city," said Thanh Hien Tran "...Their statement is not because they hate or discriminate, but according to them it's not the right time to accept and promote this unprofessional lifestyle."

Parade Chairman Neil Nguyen offered room for compromise, agreeing to bi-lateral talks with VietROC, with Mayor Tri Ta and Councilmember Sergio Contreras moderating. He also pointed out that, though the Federation's membership voted 21-47-7 to exclude LGBT organizations this year, the year before they had voted 0-61-9.

Not everyone was happy about compromise, however. During the public comment section and comments by the city council, Federation Vice President of External Affairs Ha Son Tran (who was sitting next to me) mumbled angrily to himself. When compromise was mentioned, his grumbling grew audibly more upset.

After the public comments, each city council member made emotional speeches urging the inclusion of LGBT organizations in the event.


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18 comments
Drue Mitchell
Drue Mitchell

If the float isn't just a giant penis with rainbow flags on it, this will all be for nothing

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

What's wrong with a diversity of opinions? Not everyone is down with your prevert agenda. Get over it.

Phyllis Ferrara-Salter
Phyllis Ferrara-Salter

Exactly Jeff Rey... Funny how their community forgot so quickly. The very thing they didn't like when they came here is the very thing they've become; haters and intolerant.. I have a feeling though, one day it will turn around...

Joe Smith
Joe Smith

Don't the lgbtq's have their own parade? Why the fuss?

Jeff Rey
Jeff Rey

those hypocritical vietnamese! usa gave them a home and they wave their flags in the faces of fellow vietnamese here who sympathize with the northern communists yet they so easily discriminate against others they deny exist even when members of their own families are lgbt! send them back to vietnam if they arent willing to be fair americans!!!! shame!

ArmyGrunt
ArmyGrunt

The more drama this Viet LGBT organization is creating, the more the backlash will be for their causes in the future....the majority of the Viet community has spoken...time to hold your own parade..

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@vegandawg23  

So anyone in the LGBT community who stands up against discrimination has a "pervert agenda", huh? And how is excluding an entire group of people from a public parade encouraging "diversity", anyway?

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

"The community has spoken"...doesn't mean the community is right. Proposition "Hate" (8) may have been approved by a "majority" of the California voters but it doesn't mean it wasn't blatantly unconstitutional. Perhaps you bigots have won your little battle but you will eventually lose the war. LGBT people are human beings with rights...if that concept offends you then that's YOUR problem.

ArmyGrunt
ArmyGrunt

@FishWithoutBicycle  when you have nothing else to say for your lost cause...than to start calling people bigots...that is when you lose more support for your causes...

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@FishWithoutBicycle @vegandawg23 How is it blatant discrimination?!? It's their parade and their values differ from yours. I honestly don't care that a bunch of sick guys like to fornicate with other men or if a bunch of dumpy women swear off men and want to just play sexually with other women (they can't actually have sex I don't think). Do whatever you want, you're going to die anyways and might as well have fun. Other people feel differently and it offends their religion/values whatever and if they don't want them in their parade they should be able to exclude them. Why don't the gays just have their own parade down the street? Cue Jim Crow references from morons.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

The shoe fits. Excluding an entire faction of a community from a public parade because of they are LGBT sounds pretty bigoted to me.

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