On Monday the organizing committee for the 2013 Tet Parade rejected the application by an LGBT coalition to participate in this year’s event. On Tuesday Night, the Garden Grove Unified School District, upon the urging of member Bao Nguyen, decided to withdraw their participation if the 2013 Tet parade if organizers don’t reverse their decision by noon on Friday.
In his statement to the board and members of the public, Trustee Bao Nguyen said:
When my mother was eight months pregnant, carrying me in her womb, she escaped Vietnam in the dark of the night, through an underground passageway. She was an illegal emigrant, while I was a stowaway. Such an act was a crime punishable by death. So, why take such a risk? Because her homeland was not a place that valued the freedom to differ from how life was defined by others. That was a life marked with fear. However, immense hope led us here from afar, and that hope is alive and well with the freedoms that are protected by the constitution of our great nation and that of our great state of California, my homeland. To honor all the sacrifices made for me, I stand for the freedom to define life for oneself and for the freedom to live without fear.
Like a family, a community is inherently diverse, while the values of unity and seeking understanding holds us together. Acknowledging our differences and being able to celebrate together distinguishes my homeland from my mother’s homeland. But I will not forget where I came from. Remembering, a free and democratic society is not necessarily defined by a majority, but defined by how one allows others the same liberties one wishes for oneself. True liberty is marked with such moral values as tolerance, compassion, and acceptance.
At its heart, Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year celebration, is a gathering of the whole family that extends into the community. It is a time to set the tone for the coming year with formal gestures of mutual respect, abundance, and cheerfulness. So, I’d like to extend my very best wishes to all our families, without leaving anyone out – Happy Tet!
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez has regularly participated in the annual Tet festivities in Orange County, including in the parade. Her Chief of Staff Adrienne Elrod told me yesterday that the Congresswoman had not planed to participate in the parade this year. The Congresswoman “is aware that there is a conflict being worked out and hopefully they can get this resolved soon so that all who would like to participate in the Tet festivities may do so.”
We hope that this is the first of many stands by elected officials against discrimination related to this year’s event. Already, the organizers of the Tet Festival in Garden Grove, the Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California.
The Orange County Register reports:
Luan Tran, an attorney representing the LGBT group, said Tuesday that he plans to seek an injunction in O.C. Superior Court to force parade organizers to include the LGBT participants.
An attorney from Lambda Legal, a national organization that works in support of LGBT rights, urged the committee to reconsider its decision in a letter e-mailed Tuesday afternoon. Lambda attorney Peter Renn cited numerous cases and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bars sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in business establishments.
The student association threatened to withdraw from the parade if the gay and lesbian group is not allowed in. Other groups, including a Vietnamese veterans group and a religious council, threatened to pull out if the LGBT coalition is allowed in.
That left the organizing committee with little choice but to leave the issue up to the courts, said James Truong, secretary of the federation group.
This isn’t a matter that should have to be decided by the courts, common sense, and the fact that the Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations has participated with out incident in the parade since 2010, should be enough for the parade organizers to know that their actions ore wrong.