Organizers of a planned Straight Pride rally received some bad news from city officials in Modesto, Calif., on Friday. They will not be permitted to hold their event in a city park as planned on Aug. 24.
However, the city has offered to allow the group to rally in a space near the city’s convention center – provided the organizers file a permit application by Tuesday, the Modesto Bee reported.
City officials said the original plan to use Graceada Park raised safety issues because the organizers’ liability insurance had been voided, according to FOX 40 in Sacramento.
“If you don’t have insurance, you can’t reserve one of our parks,” city spokesman Thomas Reeves told Sacramento’s KOVR-TV.
The latest development follows a contentious City Council meeting on Wednesday evening, at which critics contended the organizers didn’t wish to celebrate heterosexuality, as the event name suggests, but to instead communicate an anti-gay agenda.
Co-organizer Mylinda Mason of the National Straight Pride Coalition, however, insisted there was no hidden intent.
“Everyone is trying to sensationalize this event and it’s going to be much like a church service,” Mason told FOX 40. “I know everybody likes to go and celebrate sodomy but we actually want to celebrate heterosexuality.
"Everyone is trying to sensationalize this event and it’s going to be much like a church service. I know everybody likes to go and celebrate sodomy but we actually want to celebrate heterosexuality."
“They’re looking to amp it up into something that it’s not,” Mason said of the critics. “It’s really going to be much more like on the purview of a church service, really. It really is just celebrating our beautiful country.”
But Mason’s 28-year-old son, Matthew Mason, who is openly gay, was among those opposing the plan for a Straight Pride event.
“This isn’t ‘straight pride,’ this is ‘hate pride,’” the son told FOX 40. “This is the woman who raised me, actively working against my rights as a human being, who I am as a person.”
In a Thursday interview, National Straight Pride Coalition organizer Don Grundmann told USA Today that his organization’s First Amendment rights should be respected.
He accused the Modesto City Council of “working overtime” to block his event.
“We’re being viciously smeared and lied about that we’re racists,” he told the paper. (At the public meeting a night earlier, Grundmann drew laughter from his critics when he misspoke and described his organization as "a totally peaceful racist group," the Bee reported.)
"We're saying that it's OK to be a man. It's OK to be a woman. It's OK to have a natural family, a man, woman and children.”
"Our culture is under attack on multiple fronts, such as just being men. There's so-called toxic masculinity. There's actually college courses being taught that men are an inherent problem, there's something wrong with them," he said. "We're saying that it's OK to be a man. It's OK to be a woman. It's OK to have a natural family, a man, woman and children.”