After a meeting between event organizers and local clergy — who shared a variety of concerns — the stage is set for Aurora officials to vote on a permit for the first Pride Parade for the LGBT community in the city's history.
Members of the Government Operations Committee will decide on the permit at the panel's next regular meeting at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13. Because of the size of the crowd expected for the meeting, it will be held in the full City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 44 E. Downer Place.
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 are "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 earlier this week, but Ald. Scheketa Hart-Burns, 7th Ward, Government Operations chairman, said she has met with the clergy on several other occasions.
Hart-Burns started the meeting between clergy and parade organizers by reading a city ordinance, based on state statute, that basically says the city cannot turn down use of public facilities "based on sexual preference."
Hart-Burns told The Beacon-News that despite what the law says, there still are some concerns. She added the city does have a responsibility of "making sure the event is peaceful and law-abiding."
An Aurora policeman at the meeting assured both sides that the police would be on hand to handle any cases of law-breaking at the parade.
Hart-Burns said clergy started with almost two pages of concerns, but those have been whittled down "to just a few."
One of those is that many clergy would like parade organizers to change the date from June 17, so that the event isn't on Father's Day.
City officials said organizers might also have an event during and after the parade in the Water Street Mall downtown that would include some vendors.
Under City Council rules, the Government Operations Committee has the final say over the parade permit. It does not need full council action. The other members of that committee in addition to Hart-Burns are Ald. Rick Mervine, 8th Ward, and Ald. Judd Lofchie, 10th Ward.