After being sidelined at this year’s Tet parade, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists asked the Westminster City Council to stop the discrimination from happening again.
More than a half-dozen voiced concerns Wednesday night, with some calling the discrimination a “hate crime.” Several asked the council to add a non-discrimination clause to the special permit used by parade organizers.
Natalie Newton, head of the Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations, the group barred from participating, said the city couldn’t shirk its responsibility simply because it’s no longer footing the bill.
“This year’s parade was identical to nearly every other past parade,” Newton said, speaking of the years in which LGBT groups marched in the parade. “The city cannot relinquish responsibility based on a technicality. Consider our request to make a more equitable participation for all.”
Although the city had funded and organized the parade for years, this year it couldn’t afford to, so a coalition led by the Vietnamese Federation of Southern California stepped in.
That group turned down the LGBT group’s application to participate in the parade—even though it had in previous years. The spirit of the LGBT group runs counter to the theme and purpose of the parade, organizers said. The matter went to court, where a judge agreed to bar LGBT participation.
All Westminster council members decried the organizer’s actions, except for Andy Quach, who was absent Wednesday night.
“The Westminster I grew up in is about diversity and inclusion,” Councilman Sergio Contreras told those gathered in the chambers. “No one here on the council supported what happened. We’re going to figure out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Officials from the Vietnamese Federation of Southern California, a parade organizer, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Westminster’s city attorney has agreed to look into adding non-discrimination language to the city’s special permit contract.
In other matters, the council okayed outsourcing water bill payment processing, a change expected to save $5,000 per month. The change shifts the responsibility for mailing bills and accepting payments to county staff. Residents who pay online or at city hall can still do so.
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