Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin Monday urged members of the Government Operations Committee to approve a permit for a Pride Parade in the city.
In a strongly worded statement that invoked the words of Martin Luther King, Irvin said he is encouraging committee members “to move beyond individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of our community by voting yes.”
“It is not only the right thing to do, it is also the right of the organizers to stage the parade,” Irvin said.
The mayor said within weeks of being elected last year, he was approached by community members about the possibility of such a parade.
“Without hesitation, I expressed my total support then, and 10 months later, my support and sentiments remain the same,” he said. “We are one Aurora — and that includes all of us.”
The Government Operations Committee is due to vote on the parade permit at its meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers, City Hall, 44 E. Downer Place. The meeting was moved to the full council chambers because of the interest in the subject.
The parade is being organized by Indivisible Aurora in conjunction with several other organizations. One of its members appeared Jan. 11 before the City Council’s Government Operations Committee to apply for the parade permit for June 17, which is Father’s Day. June is Pride Month.
At that time, Gwyn Ciesla, of Aurora, said the parade would be “very tame,” “G-rated” and appropriate for every age level.
Some clergy members in Aurora also were at the meeting, and they said they wanted more information about the event. The Rev. Peggy Hicks, of Exalted Word Church, said some clergy were “worried about this event” and wanted more details about what it would entail.
Committee members tabled consideration of the permit until the Feb. 13 meeting to allow members of the clergy and parade organizers to meet. Not only did that meeting take place, but Ald. Scheketa Hart-Burns, 7th Ward, Government Operations chairman, said she met with the clergy on several other occasions.
It is a rare occurrence when the mayor urges aldermen to vote a certain way, especially at the committee level. But in this case, the committee makes the final approval on a parade permit.
Irvin invoked King’s iconic statement about a right delayed being a right denied when he said the committee should “not delay this matter and allow it to continue to move through its due process just as we have any other parade in Aurora.”
“We are one Aurora,” he said. “Let’s live like it.”
Irvin’s comments came on the heels of a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union to the city, which was sent to Corporation Counsel Richard Veenstra on Monday.
Rebecca K. Glenberg, an ACLU senior staff attorney, said “recent events” raised the possibility the City Council’s Government Operations Committee might deny the permit, or “impose onerous requirements based on the content of the parade or the identity of its participants.”
“I ask that you instruct your clients that any such discrimination would violate the First Amendment,” the letter said.
Glenberg did not confine her comments to just the parade permit. She said the city’s ordinance on parade permits “fails to meet minimum First Amendment standards.”
She said the ordinance should include: narrow, objective, and content-neutral criteria for the grant or denial of a permit; a deadline for the grant or denial of a permit, and a requirement that the reasons for a denial be put in writing; an avenue to appeal the denial of a permit; and an exemption to the permit requirement for spontaneous demonstrations in response to current events.
She said the ordinance imposes “unconstitutional requirements” on permit applicants, such as requiring they be done 90 days in advance, requiring a difficult insurance requirement and unfairly holding an applicant liable for problems that might be incurred that are not the applicant’s fault.
“The ordinance must be amended as soon as possible to include appropriate First Amendment safeguards and clear authority for the promulgation of any additional regulations,” Glenberg said in her letter.