Activists in Modesto, California, who wanted to counter gay pride events with one to celebrate being straight and proud have hit a roadblock in their efforts to hold a rally this month.
City officials rejected an effort to hold the rally in Modesto’s Graceada Park, citing concerns over violence and saying that the organizers did not have liability insurance, the Modesto Bee reported.
An email from city officials to National Straight Pride Coalition leaders Don Grundmann and Mylinda Mason reportedly said the city “had credible evidence and a reasonable basis to believe” the rally created the potential for violence.
The day picked for the rally — Aug. 24 — was also one in which other events were scheduled in the park, which is located in a residential area.
The city is proposing a different location near Modesto Centre Plaza, a downtown convention center, for the same Aug. 24 date if organizers can prove they have the necessary insurance. They gave organizers a Tuesday deadline to file their application.
City spokesman Thomas Reeves said the location would be more favorable in terms of security.
Grundmann said despite the roadblocks, a rally will take place.
“We will have an event, however it manifests itself, in Modesto on the 24th. We are going to have an event in Modesto on the 24th,” he said.
Grundmann said the coalition’s goals include “trying to save children from the LGBTQ+ community, from being molested.”
The group and its rally were the subjects of emotional debate Wednesday at a Modesto City Council, KTXL reported.
“When you invite terrorist hate groups to an event and then the city stamps that approval, that’s no longer protecting their First Amendment, that’s hate speech,” attorney Jessica Self said.
Mason countered that the group is not a hate group.
“I know everybody likes to go and celebrate sodomy but we actually want to celebrate heterosexuality,” she said. “We care about and love the homosexual community but there are certain sins like sodomy that lead to death.”
“Everyone is trying to sensationalize this event and it’s going to be much like a church service,” Mason said, adding that the event is about “speaking Christian truth.”
Grundmann said that he believed that Modesto’s permitting process was biased against his group.
“My presumption is that were being set up to be told that the bureaucratic process won’t be completed in time,” Grundmann said, according to KOVR.
“Even if I turned in an insurance policy as I’m speaking to you, we would be told that it’s too late to complete the process. Maybe that isn’t true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that occurs.”
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