WESTMINSTER, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California city granted a private group a permit Wednesday night to hold a Vietnamese new year's parade, despite objections over its exclusion of the community's gay and lesbian residents.
Members of a gay and lesbian group pleaded with the Westminster City Council to deny the permit to the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California at a meeting, but the vote to grant it was unanimous.
"They say our community goes against Vietnamese tradition, but Vietnamese tradition is about love and respect," said Joee Truong of Viet Rainbow of Orange County, which has won the attention and support of national gay rights groups like GLAAD.
Council members criticized the exclusionary policy and have urged the two groups to find a compromise, but said they have no legal choice but to grant the permit, saying it was no different than a protest march and they could not control the content.
"This whole thing has made all the people of Westminster look bad," Councilwoman Diana Carey said. "We look like we discriminate."
Carey said she's spent her life "fighting against discrimination, but having said that, I took an oath to support the constitution and First Amendment rights. As egregious as this is, I have to support this."
Parade organizer Neil Nguyen said in the application for the permit that the purpose of the parade is to "share the traditional and social values of Vietnamese that has been passed on from generation to generation and to show unity of the Vietnamese American community," according to the Orange County Register.
Organizers have previously said gay community members can march before or after the event.
The Tet parade has been held in the city for two decades and gay and lesbian groups were allowed in it when it was controlled by the city, but when the private group took over for the 2013 parade, they were told they could not participate, and were denied by a court when they sued for inclusion.