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Dueling petitions over LGBT participation in Little Saigon Tet parade

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In advance of the annual Tet parade in Westminster, Orange County's Little Saigon, lesbian, gay and transgender groups are campaigning to participate, while opponents seek to keep them from marching.

A Vietnamese American LGBT group that event organizers want to exclude from an annual Tet parade in Westminster, Calif. has taken its cause online as a petition - and so have its opponents.

The annual parade in the heart of Orange County's Little Saigon celebrates the Lunar New Year. The Orange County Register reported that this week the organizers of the Tet parade "held an emergency meeting...to discuss their opposition to the application from the Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations." An attorney for the LGBT group says he'll seek a court injunction that would compel the organizers to include the group.

In the meantime, both groups have taken to Change.org and launched online petitions. The opponents' petition, circulated by the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, has reached about 200 signatures. It asks signers to "protect the TET parade and Vietnamese culture." An excerpt:

Showing the sexual affection such as kissing or holding hand in public is not acceptable or part of the Vietnamese culture; however, VA LGBT has acted out in the TET parade in 2011 which has caused the TET parade to fail in 2011 and 2012. This action has demoted the beautiful and enrich the culture of the Vietnamese community.

The LGBT group's petition has garnered substantially more support with 1,00o signatures so far. It calls on the city of Westminster, which  is not organizing the parade, "to continue to uphold its mandate to protect public land for the fair and equal use of all protected classes." From the petition:

 In 2010, the City ruled that these groups could not discriminate against LGBTs in the Tet Parade...Because the City has granted permission to members of the Tet Parade Board to run this year's Parade, the City extends its municipal responsibility to groups therein. Vietnamese-American LGBTs are proud members of the Little Saigon community, where we own homes, pay taxes, raise a family and support local businesses.  

The OC Register quoted Westminster's assistant city attorney Christian Bettenhausen, who said that since the city is not sponsoring the parade this year, it can't force organizers to accept a group's participation.

The parade is scheduled for Sunday.

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