The Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, the community coalition that famously banned LGBT organizations from participating in the 2013 Tet Parade and then legally defending their decision by showing Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Glass pictures of mostly-naked men, have officially applied to organize the 2014 Tet Parade, according to documents acquired by the Weekly dated Nov. 15.
Earlier this month, the organization voted to once again bar LGBT organizations from participating in the parade but did not officially apply to host the event until recently.
“We're very disappointed that nothing has changed since last year and that [the federation] is continuing to communicate a message of exclusion,” said Hieu Nguyen, co-founder of Viet Rainbow of Orange County. “We really are advocating for an inclusive event for all individuals.”
“…We are Vietnamese Americans, we are LGBT,” Nguyen continued. “… We deserve the opportunity to present both of those identities in the community. We look forward to working on this and we hope that we can come to an agreement. We are asking for full inclusion.”
No other organizations have applied to organize the parade, according to Westminster City Manager Eddie Manfro. Following the exclusion vote, several Westminster city councilmembers expressed their dissatisfaction.
“Last year, the city researched the possibility of adding a non-discrimination clause but learned that doing so would open the city up to liability,” said Councilmember Sergio Contreras. “I still would like to see a parade where all citizens are included.”
“It is disappointing,” Councilmember Diana Carey said separately. “Everyone deserves human rights and dignity.”
Though efforts following the 2013 parade to ensure equality in participation, including adding a non-discrimination clause to Westminster's existing event planning ordinance, were explored; they could not be acted upon. According to Assistant City Attorney Christian Bettenhausen, the equality clause could not be added due to the First Amendment.
“Prior caselaw states that the First Amendment protects a parade organizer's right to host a parade, as well as their right to exclude whoever they want from the parade,” Bettenhausen said. “The city cannot force an organizer to include a particular group, under threat that the city will revoke or deny their permit if they don't. And we cannot fine them either. Doing this would open the city up to liability, because it violates the organizer's First Amendment right to say whatever they want to say through their parade.”
The Tet Parade dates back nearly three decades, and LGBT organizations have participated in the event while it was organized by the city, to the disdain of Vietnamese religious groups. However, due to budgetary restrictions, Westminster turned over stewardship of the event to the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California last year.