[Update: Voice of OC has more at this link, including news of a planned protest today for 3 p.m. at the Westminster offices of parade organizers at 14550 Magnolia St. It would be much smarter for parade organizers not fight to to discriminate.]
As I hope all in Orange County would agree, I am proud that we are home to the largest and strongest expatriate Vietnamese community in the world. As with the other ethnic and racial groups comprising the melange of our county, our Vietnamese community brings something to us that improves our collective culture and binds us to the rest of the world. I’m pleased that they hold a significant and joyous parade in Little Saigon to celebrate Tet, their New Year.
And … sorry, but they don’t get to discriminate against lesbians, gays, and the like. Maybe that was OK in Vietnam; it’s still OK here, if they want, in private homes and private functions. But in a public function, you don’t get to say that someone else can’t take part due to their sexual orientation. It would be as if at the Pride celebrations of the LGBT communities, they decided that Vietnamese couldn’t participate. We’d all be rightly outraged.
That is not the American way — and as Orange County’s Vietnamese are American citizens and residents, it should not be the Vietnamese-American way either. We in OC respect the Vietnamese community here — but we demand in turn that, when putting forth a public event, the Vietnamese community respects others as well regardless of their demographic characteristics.
Adding injury to insult, apparently one or more school districts want to spend public funds on a discriminatory parade — what I’ve heard is that a school district wants to put a school bus and a paid driver into the discriminatory parade. That, I’m sorry to say, is to ask for a lawsuit. Any public official who tries to spend other people’s tax money to satisfy their own taste for discrimination deserves all of the grief they will have coming to them. By the way — don’t try to apply what you think you know about federal law here; discrimination in public accommodations on account of sexual orientation is forbidden in the California Constitution. Don’t be fooled by know-nothings who say that there’s no federal law against discrimination against LGBTs — yet. They’re going to cost you money.
I’ve been a member-by-marriage of two Asian communities in my life: the Goan Indian community in the 1980s and 1990s and the Filipino community for almost the past six years. In both, I had LGBT cousins-in-law. Generally, they were tolerated (even warmly embraced) in private, but not recognized as such in public. That doesn’t fly anymore here and now. Whatever cultural or political advantage the bigots think they gain by this discriminatory action, the rest of us have to tell them plainly that fighting this losing battle will cost them more than they imagine its worth. No one is going to try to “force them to become gay” — and, historically, if anyone did it would be someone closeted, not someone out and proud.
If you think that they should open the Tet Parade in Little Saigon to those who are open about their LGBT status, here’s a petition for you to sign. Get your friends to do so as well. To my Republican friends who seem to be realizing that gay-baiting is no longer the road to political victory, here’s a chance for you to prove that you can be as welcoming of diversity as are us Democrats. I highly suggest that you take it; I’d love for both major parties to be on the right side of this issue.