California city council grants parade permit to group that will ban gay rights organization

A Los Angeles suburb’s city council unanimously voted to grant a permit to the organizers of a holiday parade despite the Vietnamese group’s plan to block a gay rights organization from marching in the event.

The governing body of the city of Westminster -- home to what is called the U.S.’s largest Vietnamese-American community -- said they granted the permit on the advice of counsel, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"I spent my whole ... 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," Councilwoman Diana Carey reportedly said after a 90-minute public commentary session on the issue.

The Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California (VAFSC) is reportedly hosting the annual parade, intended to mark the passing of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, also called Tet.

But the Viet Rainbow of Orange County says on its website its application to participate in the parade was rejected by the VAFSC -- not only this year, but for the 2012 edition, as well. Viet Rainbow says it was told by parade organizers last year, “LGBT is not part of the Vietnamese culture.”

Viet Rainbow of Orange County said it filed suit after the first rejection, but said a California court ultimately ruled that local laws governing private events, like parades, superseded its authority.

"This walk in the parade is not just about LGBT rights. It is neither about freedom of choices nor freedom of speech, but it is about our freedom from oppression, our freedom to be ourselves with dignity," said Cathy Lam, a spokeswoman of Parents of Rainbow Children, according to The Times.

The Times reports Nghia X. Nguyen, who heads the VAFSC, has agreed to negotiate with Viet Rainbow of Orange County representatives during a talk that will be moderated by  Westminster officials.

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