Councilman Chris Seelbach, the city’s first openly gay council member has decided not to march in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade.
Here's what Council member Seelbach posted on his Facebook page:
The Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade has decided to NOT ALLOW GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) to participate in tomorrow's parade simply because they are an LGBT affiliated group. GLSEN's goal is to provide safe schools & prevent bullying!!! Unless the parade organizers change their mind, I will not be walking in the parade and URGE my fellow candidates to withdraw as well. Contact the parade's organizer, Chris Schulte, right now to urge him to let GLSEN participate.
An attempt to contact Schulte by phone and email was unsuccessful.
So far two of five African American council members, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young have decided not to participate in the parade.
Young called Lincoln Ware's talk show on WDBZ (1230 am the Buzz) and stated that he withdrew from the parade. Seelbach told media that Simpson withdrew. Read it here. Councilman Cecil Thomas, who cannot run again because of term limits stated over the airwaves that he's uncertain if wife Pam Thomas, who is rumored to be selected for his seat, would participate in the parade.
Council members Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman were in court today regarding the controversial parking plan, and neither of them have publicly stated if they will join the parade.
Cincinnati City Council candidate Michelle Dillingham posted this statement on her website: Council should convene a special meeting & pull funding from St Patrick's Day parade due to GLSEN's exclusion. City policy from 2008 allows 4 events -- incl. St. Patrick's Day & Opening Day parades -- to only be charged 10% of cost for city services.
Dillingham, a white council candidate, plans to boycott. She was aide to late Councilman David Crowley, a gay rights defender and mentor to Seelbach, who introduced parade policy. Dillingham believes Crowley would be upset at GLSEN's exclusion and that council should act quickly to end subsidy.
Last year the National NAACP took a controversial step when it passed a resolution that endorsed same-sex marriage. That move caught some African Americans by surprise and sparked conversations across the country as to if African Americans should align themselves with the gay community.
The conversations being had in local grass roots circles is that it is the right thing to do - to stand with other groups who face discrimination.
But some African Americans in Cincinnati are cautious stating blacks stand with other groups and the Democrat party who don't stand with them.
Two examples repeatedly given is that other groups have not been as supportive as some would like regarding discrimination faced by Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter and the black owned Mahogany's restaurant.
Some African Americans also feel ignored by Council members.
Blogger Nathaniel Livingston states, " There are 5 Blacks on Council. What have they done for the Black community?" Livingston wants the entire Council to sign on to a pending motion to do a Croson study which he believes is a necessary step to a stronger Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program which could help minority owned businesses.
What do you think? Should African Americans align themselves with the gay community? Does the gay community align itself with black people? Is the St. Patrick's Parade Committee right to boot the GLSEN group?
Cincinnati St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee released this statement:
The Cincinnati St. Patrick Day Parade, started in 1967, is a celebration of the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. The Parade has a rich history in Cincinnati, but has always required that the Parade should not be used for advancing any political party, social movement or cause. The Parade has allowed participants to identify themselves and the organization they represent, but no solicitations are permitted by the marchers or in the crowd along the parade route. These restrictions are plainly set forth in the "Parade Orders" given to all potential participants. The Gay Lesbian Straight Educational Network participated in last year's Parade, but did not abide by the Parade's requirements. The Network again this year indicates it will not agree to the "Parade Orders." Unfortunately, therefore, the Network cannot participate in this year's Parade. The rules and order apply equally to all. For instance, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups who have not agreed to the requirements have not been participants in the Parade in the past. Finally, the Parade receives no money from the City, but only reduced costs it pays for police presence. It is the St. Patrick Parade's understanding that other parades held in the City also receive the same or similar reduced costs.
FBK is a unapologetic black writer who often finds it necessary to keep it real with issues that pertain to race. Follow her on twitter @fbkwrites
"The choice in politics and civil rights isn't usually between black and white. It's between two horrible shades of gray." Unknown
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