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After Tet parade snub, LGBT groups ask for city intervention

February 14, 2013 |  4:48 pm

Minh Tran holds up protest sign during last weekend's Tet parade in Little Saigon. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times

After being kept out of this year's Tet parade, LGBT groups are asking Westminster officials to push back by attaching a no-discrimination clause to permits granted for special events.

Activists attended the Westminster City Council meeting Wednesday, pushing to make sure they aren't excluded from next year's Lunar New Year parade in the heart of Orange County's Vietnamese community.

"We knew we would tackle this subject after the holiday. We have to keep the momentum going," said Natalie Newton, spokeswoman for the Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations.

Partnership leaders plan to meet with each council member to pitch their ideas. They also have questions for officials: Who might run the nation's only Tet parade in the future? How can a detailed vetting process be created, outlining who can or cannot be in charge of the event?

Councilwoman Margie Rice told the group she had talked to this year's event organizers, urging them to include the LGBT entry. Councilman Sergio Contreras said neither he nor his colleagues "support what happened" when the gay participants were not welcomed to march in this past weekend's parade.

While Contreras thought that the event was successful -- it drew thousands of residents and tourists to the city's premier destination, Little Saigon -- he promised to "figure out ways" the exclusion "won't happen in the future."

The parade was run entirely by private organizers this year, after the city determined if did not have the money to help sponsor the long-running event.

In the days leading to the parade, many local and national groups also weighed in with  support for the LGBT partnership, including the influential Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California, the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, the Democratic Party of Orange County, the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Parade organizers elsewhere are reaching out, too.

"We've been following this and we want to say to the group, 'Come by and join us. We would love for you to be a part of our fun, friendly event by the sea,' " said Lori Nafshun of the Ocean Park Assn., which puts on the Santa Monica Fourth of July parade.

"Our community is all about diversity, and we would be thrilled with your participation."

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-- Anh Do

Twitter: @newsterrier

Photo: Minh Tran holds up protest sign during last weekend's Tet parade in Little Saigon. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times

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