More on Anoka’s anti-gay Halloween ban

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2012

More information is coming out on Anoka Minnesota’s continued war on gay teens. As we discussed yesterday, the city’s annual Halloween Parade barred Justin’s Gift, a group that seeks to help bullied gay kids with “the following needs: belonging, self-esteem, self-respect, and ultimately a realization of their importance in the world”, from participating. They claimed that they “have reached our maximum for walking units.”

But as local media investigates, the claim of “maximum” seems to have little credibility. It seems that neither the city nor the police had placed any kind of maximum on the parade nor was their any discussion of a maximum in any of the organizing committee’s literature. In fact, they hadn’t even yet given any indication of size to the city. (MPR)

“At this time we are unable to accept your application for the parade,” the letter said. “We have reached our maximum for walking units.”

However, the application for the parade license, obtained by MPR News, was not submitted until today — 15 days after Justin’s Gift was told the parade was full.

The application, submitted to the city of Anoka by Elizabeth McFarland, estimates the parade will include approximately 31,000 people, 250 parade units, 200 vehicles, 50 dogs and 12 horses. McFarland did not return a call seeking comment.

Anoka Police Chief Philip Johanson said he is not aware of any official limit on the number of parade participants, although he said the parade route needs to be approved in advance to allow enough time for public safety officials to redirect traffic.

Nor is this the first time that the Parade has made up special reasons to disqualify a gay group. (Pioneer Press)

He added that Twin Cities Pride initially was denied involvement in the parade last year because it didn’t list its theme on the application, even though the application didn’t ask for one, Fietek said.

Members eventually were allowed to walk, but some in the community complained, Fietek said.

“I am hoping this isn’t a case of the Anoka Halloween Committee caving to public pressure,” he said.

Also interesting is that the organization didn’t lead the protest. At first Jefferson Fietek, vice-President of the group and a local teacher, just assumed they were telling him the truth. (MinnPost)

Fietek said Monday that he can’t say the parade application was rejected because of the group’s LGBT focus, but he wishes the event’s organizers had considered the potential appearance and impact of excluding the kids — particularly at a time when families and educators are trying to rebuild.

“It doesn’t seem to be a very well-thought-out decision,” he said. “The history of the [Anoka Halloween] organization is showcasing youth organizations; that’s confusing to us. Especially when there’s outside groups marching, we got bumped?”

In a poll posted on its website, Justin’s Group members had voted to march dressed as their favorite fairy tale characters. “We foolishly assumed that given we were an Anoka-based youth organization, we were in,” said Fietek.

It was angry parents of the kids who started the petition and spread the word. But Fietek is now beginning to think that it truly was an example of discrimination.

As more of this story develops, I think it will prove to be a big embarrassment to Anoka. If, of course, they even have the capacity to feel embarrassed for their bigotry. And I wonder how this story might impact the upcoming vote to ban gay couples from marriage or civil unions.


October 11th, 2012

This does appear to be a case of discrimination since the explanation proffered is an obvious pretext. As these things go, this is really on the extreme end of the scale for pure malice. To discriminate against a gay group is one thing, but to discriminate against an anti-bullying group, where the marchers would all be kids and where the group is named after a recently deceased bully victim is mind boggling. MN has never been a hotbed of anti-gay hatred. I don’t know what it is about Anoka. It is like someone carved out a slice of Alabama circa 1977 and grafted it onto MN in 2012.

MN bans discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and this public parade is likely covered. If Lambda doesn’t come in here and represent Justin’s Gift in a lawsuit, there is something seriously wrong with our movement. Let there be a suit, let there be discovery and let it all become public.


October 11th, 2012

Anoka Minnesota, proudly carrying the bigot banner of Selma and Montgomery into the 21st Century!


October 11th, 2012

The grief and public abbrobation the parade organizers are getting from this decision . . . surely they realize it is not worth the time and energy it is taking to make up more lies and excuses. Just say “there’s always room for more in our parade” and get on with it.

Or, you know, run the risk the city will deny the parade permit on the grounds the private organizers are violating state non-discrimination law. Now THAT would be an interesting development!

Michael C

October 11th, 2012

I am getting so tired of the hatred coming from my neighbors in Anoka.

I do want to defend Minnesota, Minneapolis in particular. To those of you who have never been to Minneapolis, we are awesomely gay. You can’t throw a stone without hitting at least a couple of us. Every other house displays “Vote No” yard signs (MN is fighting prevent the passage of an anti-marriage amendment this Nov). “Gay” is such a non-issue to the vast majority of Minneapolis residents. While Anoka seems to be doing everything they can to make Minnesota look foolish (I’m talking to you, Michelle), Minneapolis and much of the surrounding communities truly represent the future of our Country.


October 12th, 2012

I’m not into conspiracy theories. But there’s really only one way that this ongoing petty anti-gay crap can go on in Anoka. Which is that there’s a bunch of pretty well connected locals pushing for it.

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