Gay groups denied participation in Honolulu parade
A lawsuit was filed Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii against the city and county of Honolulu as well as the Hawaii Christian Coalition for conspiring to exclude gay groups from the Family Day Parade scheduled for July 5. "Exclusion of gay individuals from the Family Day Parade, because of our views and who we are, violates our First Amendment rights," said Michael Golojuch Jr., of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Oahu. "We wish to join the parade in celebration of gay and lesbian families, just as other families are allowed to join the parade."
The suit was filed in U. S. district court on behalf of PFLAG Oahu, the Center, and the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Family Network. "The facts show that the Family Day Parade is cosponsored and a joint venture between the city and the Hawaii Christian Coalition. The city also advertised the parade as open to the entire community and invited everyone to join. However, as soon as our clients sought to participate, the city changed its mind. This is called discrimination, and it is not allowed under the Constitution," said Brent White, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii and attorney for the plaintiffs.
According to the complaint, Honolulu and the Hawaii Christian Coalition have widely promoted the parade as a cosponsored event. The city of Honolulu extensively advertised the Family Day Parade, using taxpayer funds, through flyers, radio commercials, the city Web site, and posters in city buildings and buses. According to these advertisements, the event will include a parade, entertainment, displays, food, fireworks, and a movie. The gay organizations followed all the requirements to participate in the parade. According to their suit, however, city and coalition members sought to discourage them from joining the parade through a variety of means, including failing to fax parade applications as promised, lying about the application deadline, refusing to accept the applications, excluding plaintiffs from parade organizational meetings, and general verbal harassment and hostility. When the gay groups persisted, the city and the Hawaii Christian Coalition changed their tactics and now contend that the parade, previously advertised as a cosponsored event, is actually privately sponsored by the Hawaii Christian Coalition.