The Westminster City Council will decide Wednesday night whether organizers of a popular Vietnamese New Year’s parade can host again. The group has excluded gay and lesbian groups from participating in the past, but activists say that shouldn’t be enough reason for the city to deny them a permit. Hetty Chang reports from Westminster for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2013.
The Westminster City Council was expected to decide Wednesday evening whether organizers of a popular Vietnamese new year's parade can host again next year.
The organizer, the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, has hosted the Tet Lunar New Year parade the past two years and has excluded gay and lesbian groups from participating.
The Vietnamese culture is one deeply-rooted in tradition, and that tradition is shown off at the parade, which is usually held in February and attracts about 20,000 visitors each year.
Joee Truong, the co-chair of the Viet Rainbow of Orange County, is one of the LGBT community members, fighting to be a part of the parade. She participated in 2010, one of the years the city hosted.
"That gave me a sense of freedom, the sense of being myself to the community," she said. "My dad actually kicked me out of the house when he found out I liked a girl. He said that I was sick, I was not normal. I struggle(d) my whole life."
The city of Westminster used to host the parade, but turned it over to private organizers when it could no longer afford it.
This past year, the federation applied and got the permit to host the parade and raised $60,000 of private funds to pay for it, according to city officials.
Wednesday, city leaders were expected to vote on whether to allow the federation to host the parade, which is slated for February 2014.
"Everyone is a part of the community," said Tri Ta, the city of Westminster's mayor. "From the city, we encourage everyone to participate in the parade."
But Ta, the nation's first Vietnamese-American elected mayor, said the parade is not a city event. As a result, he said, the city must respect the organizer's wishes.
"That means the city cannot enforce or tell the organizer to do what the city wants," he said.
He said he planned on encouraging the organizers to sit down with the LGBT community to work together. Gay and lesbian groups had planned on showing up by the dozens to testify at the city council meeting, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"They put me back to darkness," said Truong. "They (are) taking out my rights again. They want me to go back to my closet again."