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.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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