CHARLOTTE, N.C. — National news outlets and political commentators have latched onto the recent decision by Charlotte Pride organizers to deny a group called “Gays for Trump” from having a float in the annual Charlotte Pride Parade in August. Though some express outrage, the decision is entirely supported by Charlotte Pride’s bylaws, and does not violate any local, state or federal laws.
“For a group of people to claim to want tolerance, acceptance, and give it to every single person you can imagine to give it to, for them to sit back and judge me for exercising my right as an American to choose my leader without judgment is hypocritical,” Gays for Trump member Brian Talbert, one of two individuals to apply for the float, told the local Fox news station.
Though Talbert is crying “discrimination,” — even raising money on GoFundMe for a lawsuit concerning the decision — Charlotte Pride organizers fully defend their right to deny the application.
“Charlotte Pride reserves the right to decline participation at our events to groups or organizations which do not reflect the mission, vision and values of our organization,” the organization said in a statement. “Charlotte Pride envisions a world in which LGBTQ people are affirmed, respected and included in the full social and civic life of their local communities, free from fear of any discrimination, rejection, and prejudice.”
In fact, Gays for Trump and its members have made headlines for controversial methods in the past. During their leader’s presidential campaign, one member who worked the group’s booth at NC Pride physically assaulted an anti-Trump protester. Only days after the presidential inauguration, the LGBTQ Rights page at WhiteHouse.gov disappeared.
The Trump administration also revoked protections for transgender students instituted under President Barack Obama. Before the election, the Human Rights Campaign posted a list of Trump’s positions on LGBTQ issues. More recently, the president announced he will speak at the “Road to Majority” conference hosted by anti-LGBTQ group Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Considering all of their leaders’ anti-LGBTQ decisions and executive appointments, Gays for Trump clearly “do not reflect the mission, vision and values” of Charlotte Pride. Further than the parade organizers’ longstanding policies, the law does not support Talbert’s planned lawsuit, either.
“Charlotte and North Carolina do not ban discrimination by parade organizers based on political affiliation,” Eugene Volokh of The Washington Post notes. “Second, even if a public accommodation law did ban such discrimination, it couldn’t apply to parades organized by nongovernmental organizations.”
This point is supported by Supreme Court precedent. The highest court’s 1995 decision in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc. affirmed that private parade organizers cannot be forced “to include among the marchers a group imparting a message the organizers do not wish to convey. We hold that such a mandate violates the First Amendment.”
Charlotte Pride has an undeniably long-established defense. But, sure, go ahead with that lawsuit, Talbert.