Protecting the Pride Parade

The San Diego ACLU chapter, along with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, represented San Diego Lesbian and Gay Pride, Inc. (Pride), a private nonprofit organization that sponsors San Diego’s annual Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade and Festival, in its defense of a lawsuit brought by a group calling themselves the “Normal People.”

The so-called “Normal People” sought to march in the 1994 Pride Parade “in political disagreement to the homosexual agenda.” Former San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock outlined the objectives of the group in his monthly newsletter stating that, “We are looking for 10,000 people to completely dwarf this so-called ‘Pride’ parade. What is there to be proud of, anyway—that they’ve perpetrated the most devastating plague since the Black Death in the 16th [sic] Century?”

Pride rejected the application of the group to march on grounds that their stated message was antithetical to the message of the private parade. The “Normal People” then filed suit alleging that their exclusion was based on their sexual orientation—heterosexuality—in violation of San Diego’s Human Dignity Ordinance, and requested a temporary restraining order barring their exclusion from the Parade.

The Superior Court denied the temporary restraining order and agreed with Pride and the ACLU’s arguments that the parade was a private event and that its organizers were entitled under the First Amendment to exclude applicants who sought to dilute the message of the event. The judge further noted that the “Normal People” were excluded because of their contrary message, not because of their sexual orientation, and thus that the Human Dignity Ordinance was not violated.

The Parade went forward as scheduled on July 16, 1994. The “Normal People” continued to press their claim for damages in the lawsuit until the eve of trial, in mid-1995, when they dismissed their complaint and terminated the litigation.
(Superior Court of San Diego; Jordan Budd [ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties], Dale Manicom [ACLU volunteer attorney], Amelia Craig, Ian Kramer [Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund]; 1994-1995)